Pleas for Govt to commit to health reforms
THE future of the Gillard Government’s broad health system reforms remains in doubt amid growing pressure from health groups and the opposition for Labor to prove its commitment to reform.
As Federal Parliament resumes this week, the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA), of which the RACGP and the RDAA are members, has called for the Government to stand by its pledge to deliver health reforms funded by agreements with the states over GST revenue.
In recent days the Federal Government has refused to rule out dumping its former leader Kevin Rudd’s proposed suite of health and hospital reforms ahead of next week’s COAG meeting with the states.
Mr Rudd struck a deal with most states and territories last year to make the Commonwealth the dominant funder of public hospitals in exchange for 30% of their GST payments.
However, recent media reports have suggested Prime Minister Julia Gillard was preparing to ditch the reforms in favour of delivering funding directly to hospitals, and denying states promised money for expenditure growth and capital works.
There would no longer be any clawback of GST revenue, but federal Labor would only fund 40% of public hospital costs, as opposed to Mr Rudd’s planned 60% arrangement.
Both Prime Minister Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have refused to say whether the Federal Government remains committed to the health reform plans.
AHCRA chair Tony McBride said yesterday he feared if media reports were founded that “it is a signal that the government is turning its back, rather than trying to solve the more serious aspects involved in the Blame Game”.
“It will be back to business as usual, each blaming the other, with the health consumer the eventual loser,” he said.
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton has meanwhile continued his questioning of the Gillard Government’s commitments to meaningful health reform, accusing the Prime Minister of “galloping away” from her Government’s reform agenda.
“The Coalition has maintained that Labor’s health reforms were hollow, little more than… a political distraction,” said Mr Dutton.
“This government has been backtracking on the reforms from day one, ditching key aspects of them then unveiling… Medicare Locals whose roles remain inexplicable. Now the Prime Minister is readying to abandon the pillars that were to hold the shell of reform up – majority funding and GST clawback.”
MO was seeking comment from Health Minister Nicola Roxon as this article went to press.