Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the states and territories will receive a copy of his complete health funding plan later today.
The move comes after the New South Wales Government gave him a deadline of Wednesday to reveal the entire plan.
Mr Rudd has released parts of his health funding plan in dribs and drabs over the past six weeks ahead of next Monday’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.
Today NSW Premier Kristina Keneally demanded Mr Rudd release the full plan by Wednesday so the states and territories could examine the detail before COAG.
Mr Rudd says he is hopeful state and territory leaders will sign on to the plan at the meeting.
“Later today we will be presenting the states with the Australian Government’s final position in documentary form for them to consider in the lead-up to COAG,” he said.
“This is consistent with what I outlined at the National Press Club, consistent with the statements we have made since then, and it will be documented in the final policy position we will put to the states and territories some time later today.”
Earlier, Mr Rudd promised a full federal takeover of aged care services with a $739 million spending package if the states and territories backed the Government’s health overhaul.
Ms Keneally has welcomed the funding for aged care, but remains adamant New South Wales will not sign up to the full plan if it disadvantaged the state.
“New South Wales wants change but it must be the right change,” she said.
“We won’t sign up to a plan that puts New South Wales taxpayers and New South Wales families in a disadvantaged position.
“I have been consistently consulting with the unions, with clinicians, academics, consumers, who’ve all attended our working seminar in New South Wales held a few weeks ago on health reform.
“All of these key stakeholders have identified the complexity of what we’re undertaking.”
The Victorian Government says it requires more money to address the shortage of aged care beds across the state.
Mr Rudd says Victoria must first agree to give the Federal Government greater control of the health system.
“The Australian Government will not be providing a blank cheque to any state government because we need to see the fundamental health and hospital system fixed, duplication and waste removed before we invest in the future growth of the system,” he said.
Mr Rudd says the structure of the system needs to be fixed first and state and territory leaders must come on board.
“We cannot and will not make fundamental new investments in the future of our health and hospital system unless we fix first the structure of that system,” he said.
“That’s why we must have the support of the state and territory governments in advancing the national health reform agenda.”
Mr Rudd says the $739 million will be used to support the cost of about 5,000 beds as the Government takes full responsibility of all aged care, including home and community care.
About $140 million will be used to give providers zero real interest rate loans to create 2,500 aged care places and $120 million will be used to fund 286 sub-acute care beds in rural areas.
And $263 million will be spent to improve access to aged care services.
Doctors will also be given incentives to provide services in aged care homes.
But the Australian Nurses Federation says it is disappointed with the Federal Government’s latest promises on aged care.
The federation’s federal secretary, Ged Kearney, says the Government is not providing any new money to boost the number of aged care nurses.
“It does nothing for the hardworking, stressed, under-resourced nursing and personal carers who provide that care to our residents and ultimately it will do very, very little to relieve the pressure on the public hospitals where we know there are thousands of elderly people who should be being cared for by expert nursing staff in nursing homes,” Ms Kearney said.
Aged Care Queensland says the package does not include enough money for the capital cost of building aged care facilities.
Chief executive Anton Kardash says aged care providers will not apply for new beds unless there is adequate funding.
“In this announcement $143 million is put aside for zero interest loans to assist in building. Now in Queensland last year our take-up rate was down by 30 per cent in the allocation of licences, so people are just not building,” he said.
Mr Kardash says the Government needs to focus on capital and recurrent funding for aged care beds.
“Parts of what has been said today are excellent. The takeover of HACC (Home and Community Care) is welcomed, the increase in GP services to aged care is welcomed, but other parts lack a clarity that makes it very hard for us to recommend anything to our state premiers at the moment,” he said.
The aged-care proposal is the latest in a series of announcements in the lead-up to next week’s COAG meeting, where the states and territories will be pressured to lock in on the Commonwealth’s health proposals.
Yesterday Mr Rudd announced $500 million to cut emergency department waiting times to under four hours, but that money is also on the condition of agreement to the full plan.
The Government wants to claw back a third of GST revenue from the states to pay for a 60 per cent funding takeover of public hospitals.
But Victoria and New South Wales are resisting the plan, with Victorian Premier John Brumby last week releasing an alternative 50-50 split for funding hospitals.