First national cabinet meeting to tackle health crisis

Health care is set to be the key issue on the agenda for the first meeting of the national cabinet since Labor won the federal election.

State and territory leaders will seek increased hospital funding and higher Medicare rebates when the national cabinet meets in coming weeks for the first time since February.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says the lack of access to bulk-billing GPs is increasing pressure on the hospitals’ emergency departments.

From Fairfax:

“GPs have been so underfunded for so long,” Hazzard said. “We need to get a lot more doctors in general practice as the entire health system is interconnected.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said GPs must be part of the solution to the state’s hospital crisis and vowed to lobby Albanese with as much determination as he would a Liberal prime minister.

“If the only places left to go is the hospital emergency department, that’s where patients will go,” Andrews said…

Andrews said states and territories are “very much united” in their push for the new hospital agreement to lift the Commonwealth contribution to the growth in costs from 45 to 50 per cent, a change that would deliver about $20.5 billion extra over four years from 2025.

The health crisis is symptomatic of a broader issue impacting the federation: the embedded vertical fiscal imbalance.

Because the Commonwealth collects around 80% of the nation’s total tax revenue, the states are critically starved of funds for health, other essential services and infrastructure. This funding imbalance is also made worse by the federal government’s mass immigration policy, which continually adds to demand for government services and infrastructure.

The Albanese Government should make fixing the vertical fiscal imbalance a key plank of its reform agenda, preferably as part of a program of broad-based tax reform.

I am not holding my breath, however, given previous governments baulked at reform.

Unconventional Economist
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