Rudd’s hospital plan in a critical condition
Kevin Rudd’s grand plan was to end the blame game with his radical overhaul of hospital funding. He failed. The blame has been flowing thick and fast over hospital funding cuts in Victoria.
The federal and state governments should share the blame and both should be ashamed when surgeries are cancelled, hospital beds closed, palliative care slashed and emergency departments shut.
Wayne Swan handed his Cabinet colleague Tanya Plibersek a political hospital pass when his Budget update last year moved the goal posts on health funding. That was in the days when he was still clinging to the hope of bringing down a Budget surplus and being brutal.
A complex formula agreed by Canberra and the states said hospital funding should be cut nationally by $400 million, imposing a $107 million hit in Victoria. It was based on controversial and outdated population figures.
But worse, the change would apply mid-year - after hospital budgets had been set.
The Baillieu Government had already made $616 million worth of cuts. Unlike other states it saw no room to absorb the hit and used it to cover up its own cuts. Patients, doctors and nurses were caught in the middle.
Julia Gillard will go to the polls before Ted Baillieu. The PM has plenty of other problems and has taken the sensible and correct decision to put patients first.
Plus she is trying to hold onto some marginal seats in Victoria where health is one of the top issues concerning voters.
Both sides will continue to argue the other has ripped out money while they have put in record amounts. The public don’t care about the money shuffle.
Gillard wrote to Baillieu last night telling him this was no backdown. She has merely taken $107 million of other money away from Victoria and will give it directly to the Local Hospital Networks to bypass the state government.
What Gillard calls a “rescue package” only fills the hole for this year and only for Victoria.
The Victorian Health Minister David Davis says he will keep fighting and other states are sure to want money too.
The blame game goes on.
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