Rudd health reforms ‘bizarre’, says Reserve Bank Board member Roger Corbett


His intervention comes as negotiations between the premiers and Mr Rudd enter a final week ahead of next Monday’s Council of Australian Government’s meeting.

The Prime Minister will today unveil a $739m package supporting 5000 aged-care places. The announcement will increase pressure on Mr Brumby, who last week issued a rival blueprint rejecting Mr Rudd’s planned hospital takeover in favour of a 50-50 funding model and continued state control

In Brisbane yesterday, Mr Rudd again pressed premiers to sign up next week.

“I believe that working families, pensioners, carers right across the country have already reached a conclusion that the current system is not good enough,” he said.

“It needs to be improved.”

But Mr Brumby attacked Mr Rudd for releasing the package one element at a time.

“It would have been better to deal with the whole health system in one go rather than in bits and pieces,” Mr Brumby said.

“I don’t believe you can separate it out.”

Mr Brumby said the Prime Minister must put more money on the table for the states to agree to his plan.

In today’s announcement, the commonwealth will offer to take full funding and policy responsibility for aged care, including home and community care currently provided by the states, to enable a nationally consistent aged-care system. Mr Rudd will offer the states $280m to fund older people who occupy hospital beds while waiting to get into aged-care facilities, which in 2006 numbered 2400.

The package also includes $143m for providing zero real interest loans to aged-care providers to support development of 2500 new aged-care places.

It promises to work with the states to release more land and accelerate planning approvals to enable aged-care homes to become operational more quickly.

Incentives will be provided to general practitioners to increase services to people in aged-care homes, in a $96m plan over four years.

It is estimated that 27,000 hospital admissions a year could be avoided through better GP care in aged-care homes.

State premiers have been demanding key detail on the federal government’s plans for aged care since Mr Rudd unveiled his $50 billion public hospitals reform plan last month.

But Mr Corbett told Seven aged care was a prime example of why the hospitals reform plan should be opposed.

“If you’re involved with aged parents and trying to navigate your way through those services, they are hopelessly unco-ordinated and, I think, a national disgrace run by, I might say, the federal government.”

Mr Corbett said Mr Rudd’s planned local area hospital networks would only add to confusion and lead to more public servants.

Mr Rudd’s aged-care instalment will add to a string of big bang announcements from the commonwealth in the past few weeks, including the weekend’s $500m funding injection to cut waiting times in emergency departments to a maximum four hours and $500m to treat diabetes.

“I would say to any premier or chief minister who thinks that their system is currently good enough and doesn’t need to be improved, to go and have a long, long conversation with people currently queuing for attention at the emergency departments of their hospital this morning,” Mr Rudd said.

Claiming the biggest shake-up to the healthcare system since Medicare, Mr Rudd has proposed that the federal government contribute 60 per cent of public hospitals funding in return for clawing back 30 per cent of the GST.

The government has threatened a referendum for a full commonwealth takeover of health if the states fail to agree to the plan.

Tony Abbott yesterday accused Mr Rudd of throwing money at problems. “It seems that the Prime Minister is throwing money at problems in a transparent attempt to bribe the state governments to sign up to his plan,” the Opposition Leader said.