The Commonwealth covers 45 per cent of the growth of hospital funding, with an annual 6.5 per cent cap on the growth of costs. It raised its contribution to 50 per cent for COVID-19 related hospital spending during the coronavirus pandemic, but this ends in September.
All states and territories are pushing for the Commonwealth share to be raised to 50 per cent and the growth cap abolished.
Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said it was “not good enough” for Albanese to promise to negotiate over hospital funding, saying Labor’s position was no different to the Coalition’s.
“Of course they’ll negotiate … That doesn’t mean they’ll actually come to the party when it comes to the funding,” Khorshid said.
But Albanese said he was not going to promise something he could not deliver in government.
“We’re not promising things in advance and then we’ll say something different after the election campaign. What we’re doing is being very clear,” he said
“I’m aware that premiers would like increased funding. Premier Palaszczuk has raised it with me.”
Albanese noted that all premiers wrote to the government last year to ask for a solution to the growth funding dispute, and that Commonwealth debt was near $1 trillion.
“So that is why we are being very responsible, very measured, in the proposals that we have put.”
Former Health Department secretary Stephen Duckett has argued for a two-year extension of the 50:50 pandemic funding arrangement to help public hospitals deal with an elective surgery backlog and the pressure on emergency departments.
Andrews told this masthead the states would be hit with about $5 billion in costs, including $1.5 billion for Victoria, without a resolution with Canberra.
“Whoever wins the federal election, they will need to deal with these issues,” he said. “And I think they will face a united team of first ministers [premiers and chief ministers] who are speaking up on behalf of patients and speaking up on behalf of the people that they serve.”
Palaszczuk urged Australians to vote for Albanese and remove Prime Minister Scott Morrison from power and said she believed the Labor leader would listen to the premiers on hospital funding.
“It is no secret that all of the premiers and the chief ministers from all political persuasions are calling for more health funding,” she said. “We’ve had two years of a global pandemic. It’s put pressure on our hospitals. I know with Anthony, he will listen.”
She also took a shot at Morrison for not putting hospital funding on the agenda at recent meetings of the national cabinet.
“We’ll be able to work with [Albanese], not someone who won’t even allow it to be on the agenda at
national cabinet,” she said.
with Dana Daniel
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