The peak doctors’ lobby hopes Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s revised national health reform plan will resolve the arguments about financing and get the process back on track – but the opposition has called it a ‘wipeoput’ of a backdown.
Ms Gillard has proposed a 50-50 public hospitals funding arrangement with the states and territories ahead of the COAG meeting in Canberra on Sunday, AAP reported.
The revised deal comes after coalition governments in Western Australia and Victoria rejected an agreement with Kevin Rudd in 2010 which would have seen the states relinquish 30 per cent of their GST revenue, AAP reports.
Yet Gillard has abandoned this, and instead wants states and territories to contribute on an equal footing,conditional on states agreeing to more transparency plus local control of hospitals. She says it will see the commonwealth coming up with $16bn over the next decade.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott slammed the proposal as a huge backdown.
‘This is an historic capitulation on what the Government was proposing. This is the biggest surrender since Singapore,’ the ABC quoted Abbott as saying.
‘Compared to what Kevin Rudd was promising, this is an absolute, complete and utter wipeout.”
Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Andrew Pesce said it was hoped the new deal, which does not seek any GST revenue from the states, resolved arguments over financing and allowed the heath reform deal to go ahead.
‘I think everyone is impatiently waiting finally for a deal which will allow us to focus on the main gain… improving our health system, rather than arguing over the finances, he told reporters at Westmead Private Hospital in western Sydney on Friday.
The proposal gives “potential” to lock in funding commitments in a way that is hoped to minimise cost- and blame-shifting in the future, he said.
Dr Pesce welcomed the federal government’s offer of funding 50 per cent of the growth in hospital costs, which would be delivered, along with state funds, through the establishment of a single national funding pool.
‘We would like that funding delivered as directly as possible to the local hospital networks with a minimum interference from central bureaucrats in how it is being spent,’ he said.
‘Is it going to be enough? I think only time will tell, but given the fact that this is what is required to get a financing deal on the table, we have got to start somewhere and it is a reasonable start.’