Health (Commonwealth State Funding Arrangements) Bill 2012
Written on the 21 June 2012
I am very pleased to rise to speak on the Health (Commonwealth State Funding Arrangements) Bill 2012 and to have been able to listen to the contributions of Mr Jennings and Ms Hartland. I am also pleased that Mr Jennings has indicated that the opposition will be supporting the bill following what I am sure will be a fairly swift committee stage.
Those improved services include the funding aspects that will lead to more hospital beds and, importantly, provide protection from forced amalgamations of local hospital networks and hospital health services. Mr Jennings made reference to that, and I have to agree with him. He said that Victoria should have a say in its health service arrangements.
I think he would agree that fighting for and achieving that particular aspect was a good thing. The deal will also allow for better clinical services and outcomes through reviews of proposed targets for elective surgery and emergency department services. As I already indicated, the deal has also brought forward significant amounts of funding.
I also agree with Mr Jennings that there are significant challenges in this area for all jurisdictions and health services. That is certainly the case. I also agree with Mr Jennings that we have confidence in the hospital staff and in Victoria having a very high standard of care across our health services. We acknowledge all the great work undertaken by the people in our various health services. I know Mr Jennings, Ms Hartland and I all watch what those health workers do, understand what they do and advocate for what they do.
Mr Jennings talked about the legacy of the health system in Victoria, which has been a leader across the nation. I am pleased to say that is absolutely true. The casemix or activity-based funding model started under the Kennett government. It is a model that has strengthened our financial management and planning of hospital services and was maintained by the Labor government. That model has held Victorian health services in great stead, and on a national level it is looked at by other states as a great model. There are many examples of what previous governments have done, and in the area of casemix activity it is one in which I was closely involved in and had some input into when I was working in the public health system, so I know how it worked operationally. Funding is a complex area, and health in itself is a complex area.
To get back to the mechanisms of the bill itself, it will establish the office of administrator of the national health funding pool. The minister for this jurisdiction, who is a member of the Standing Council on Health, will appoint the administrator to the office of the administrator of the national health funding pool.
The administrator will have various functions. As Mr Jennings highlighted very succinctly, the administrator will calculate and advise the Treasurer of the commonwealth of the amounts required to be paid by the commonwealth into each state pool account of the national health funding pool under the national health reform agreement, including advice on any reconciliation of those amounts based on subsequent actual service delivery.
The administrator will also monitor state payments into each state pool account, make payments from each state pool account in accordance with the directions of the state concerned and report publicly on the payments made into and from each state pool account and other matters.
The bill provides for the transparency, accountability and safeguards which all members would be interested in ensuring are in place when we are dealing with taxpayers money. We want to put that money to good purpose in relation to health service delivery.
When Premier Baillieu and Minister Davis went to Canberra and argued the case for all Victorians in relation to this health reform, they secured an agreement that allows for greater input from the state and local perspective, so there will be no forced amalgamations of health services.
The agreement allows for new national agencies, including the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, to set a national efficient price for hospital services, and for the administrator aspects I have just highlighted. It also ensures that the pooling arrangements for Victorian hospital funding remain within Victoria.
Although this is a system that is set up by the commonwealth and there will be in effect another layer of bureaucracy administering those funds to the states, that cost will be borne by the commonwealth and not by Victorian taxpayers that would subsequently flow through to health services.
I think these are important elements to highlight.
Mr Jennings also highlighted the additional money that is coming to Victoria.
In conclusion, I am very proud to say that the Baillieu government has stood up for the interests of Victoria and Victorian patients.
This bill will ensure that the financial arrangements that provide commonwealth funding to our hospital services are appropriate and supportive of Victoria's established and effective hospital service system. It is a very good hospital service system which has held us in good stead so far, and I have great confidence that it will do so in the future. I commend the bill to the house.