Gillard’s about-face on health reform

BY THE time you read this week’s MO, the carcass of the health reform agenda will have been picked over once again. 

As MO went to press, Prime Minister Julia Gillard had dumped one of the most crucial planks of Labor’s health reforms – namely, the COAG agreement under which the Federal Government would become the majority funder of public hospitals in exchange for 30% of the states’ GST revenue.

This arrangement, which Kevin Rudd was so resolute in securing, will be replaced by an arrangement whereby the Federal Government will directly fund 50% of the public hospitals, with no GST clawback required.

This latest about-face comes in the wake of last year’s downgrading of the contentious diabetes block-funding scheme from a $449.2 million initiative to a $30 million trial, and the decision to delay the axing of the Practice Incentives Program payments for after-hours care until mid-2013.