Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are going to have a debate on health. Next Tuesday at the Press Club. I suspect it’s going to be about which vision of big government will better provide health outcomes. I think everyone agrees that ‘local control’ is important – but nobody quite agrees what ‘local’ actually means. There is going to be a bit of name-calling too; Dr Death v Mr Stripped-a-billion-dollars-out-of-public-hospitals. Rudd did used to get called ‘Dr Death’ in Queensland in the mid-90s but I don’t recall that this was due to hospital policy at the time – maybe that can be cleared up in the comments. It is not clear that Abbott stipped a billion dollars out of public hospitals. Actually, he didn’t.
See this table from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The Australian Government’s share of public hospital funding was lower (39.2%) in 2007–08 than it had been at the start of the period (1997–98) when it was 42.5%. This reduction in the share of funding occurred between 2000–01 and 2006–07 and was due to growth in the state and territory governments’ funding exceeding that of the Australian Government in each of those years. By 2006–07, the Australian Government’s share had fallen to its lowest point during the decade (38.6%) (Table 4.5).
No talk there of money being stripped out of public hospitals. I also compared growth in spendng on public hospitals to GDP growth (using GDP growth data from the AIHW).
As I said over at ABC The Drum
All governments like to think that increasing the amount of money thrown at problems will solve that problem. But, as we now know from the Rudd government stimulus package, the quality of spend can be more important than the quantity of spending.
So on Tuesday hopefully Rudd and Abbott will be able to talk about what they propose in addition to throwing more of the long-suffering taxpayers money at health.