Package with strings attached: healthcare reform

Robert Wells; 17/4/10

Kevin Rudd has made his final offer to the states on his health reform package. What remains between now and the April 19 Council of Australian Governments meeting is a final funding offer from the Prime Minister. The commonwealth-state divide boils down to money, perhaps a mere billion dollars or so. Victorian Premier John Brumby’s claim that the states should retain the 30 per cent of GST revenue Rudd proposes to withhold from them seems to be regarded even by his peers as out there. A small matter of principle crept in from the premiers’ Monday night teleconference: that all the hospital funding should be pooled, presumably to be distributed by some independent authority. It’s a silly idea that has been floating around for years and has been vehemently discredited by the states previously. The likely outcome is an agreement broadly in line with the commonwealth’s various policy statements.