Australia Heading For Its Own Health Overhaul

Reuters: "Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday he had reached agreement with all but one of Australia's states on major health reforms which he hopes will spearhead his 2010 re-election campaign. Failure to clinch the $51 billion deal, which will see the government become the nation's main health funder, would have fueled perceptions Rudd has been unable to deliver on reform promises that propelled him to power in 2007" (Taylor, 4/20).

The Wall Street Journal: The overhaul will federalize funding for the country's hospital system. "It includes federal government commitments for extra services that will cost 5.4 billion Australian dollars (US$4.98 billion) over five years. At the same time, Canberra will hold back 30% of revenue from Australia's goods and services tax, ... to help fund hospitals. … 'Here we have for the first time, the Australian government as the exclusive funder of the [health] care system, the exclusive funder of the primary health care system of Australia, and for the first time in our country's history, the dominant funder of the acute hospital system,' Mr. Rudd said" (Rogow, 4/20).

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "Without an agreement, 'we would be consigning states to their financial death warrant' as their budgets would be overwhelmed by health costs, Rudd said a news conference in Canberra today. Talks to try to win [holdout state] Western Australia's approval will take place in the coming weeks, he said. The health-care revamp is a mainstay of Rudd’s platform for a national election that must be called within a year" (Rae, 4/20).

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