Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Red book finds rub with Rudd

SMH - Mark Metherell
October 7, 2010

The federal Treasury has signalled its unease with elements of the Rudd government's health reform plans that were supported by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

In its ''red book'' of policy analyses presented to the incoming government, Treasury doubts whether the reforms can begin on schedule and whether the national hospital funding changes can proceed without Western Australia.

The WA government has shown no sign it is prepared to accept a central part of the plan that requires the states to give up a third of their GST revenue in return for the Commonwealth's 60 per cent funding of public hospitals.

Advertisement: Story continues below The document also warns that the federal and state governments will need to make ''intensive efforts'' to ensure the proposed transfer of primary care services from the states to Canberra begins on time in July.

The chapter of the red book dealing with the health reforms contains censored sections apparently dealing with the financing of the changes, and a paragraph on ''sensitivities'' of implementing the change.

It refers to two areas where Canberra would like to take over full funding control - mental health services and aged care - saying there were reform ''pressures'' which would add to the task of implementing changes.

As well, it points to delays in introducing uniform measures to gauge quality and safety in public hospitals and health services, saying the ''new national performance and accountability framework will be particularly important for system efficiency and sustainability''.

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