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Another backflip on the way for hospital funding?

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Senator Lyn Allison Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Victoria Australian Democrats spokesperson for Health and Ageing

Dated: 19 October 2007 Portfolio: Health and Ageing

ANOTHER BACKFLIP ON THE WAY FOR HOSPITAL FUNDING? The Democrats said Minister Abbott’s announcement that he would fund public hospitals directly for services provided was yet another knee-jerk election special that raised more questions than answers.

“Does this announcement mean the Federal Government will fix its own five-year shortfall in the share of hospital funding? I doubt it”, said Senator Allison.

“Is the Minister going to remove the cap altogether or will the Commonwealth now micro-manage case mix funding for every hospital in the country? Again, this would be as impractical as single hospital takeovers or putting boards into every hospital.”

“The Democrats welcome more funding for hospital services but it makes more sense to increase the currently population-based cap on block grants than to interfere in the way funding is managed in hospitals.

“Commonwealth spending on Medicare, the PBS and private hospitals and health insurance rebate is all uncapped. If the Government moves to fee-for-service, will Commonwealth payments to public hospitals be increased to match those provided to private hospitals? If not, why not?”

“The Democrats are concerned that this could mean base funding for services, topped up by patient co-payments - a stepping away from the Australian Health Care Agreement that currently guarantees free public hospital services.

“Minister Abbott leaps from one dubious scheme to another on health. How soon will we see a blackflip on this too?

“We must not encourage more expensive, invasive procedures at the expense of cheaper preventative alternatives. Real health reform means moving to a health care system based on primary care, not hospital care”, said Senator Allison

Please see our campaign Election 07: The Issues - Our Health System