Covid funding to states should be extended, Daniel Andrews says

Victorian government wants extension of commonwealth funding arrangement to combat pandemic

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has reignited calls for the commonwealth to extend its increased health funding for Covid, warning the effects of the pandemic will not end after winter.

But the state opposition has lashed the Andrews government, saying the pressure has been caused by “years of Labor mismanagement” prior to the pandemic.

The call for extended funding comes as pressure builds on the state government over Victoria’s over-burdened ambulance service ahead of next month’s state budget.

Depleted staffing levels in the state’s triple-zero service has left it plagued by lengthy call-wait times, with the state coroner investigating reports of people dying while waiting for calls to be picked up

The commonwealth last month extended the Covid-19 National Partnership Agreement to 30 September. The agreement supports the state and territory health systems respond to the pandemic, with a further $982.5m committed in the March federal budget.

On Friday, Andrews said Victoria required the additional funding to catch up on deferred care such as elective surgery that had been pushed back during the pandemic.

“I would again, urge the prime minister and the federal treasurer to reconsider that $1.5bn cut to health that occurs in September,” Andrews said.

“This will not be over in September.”

Under the agreement – where the commonwealth funds 50% of Covid-related health costs – Victoria received an additional $1.56bn this financial year.

Andrews said Victoria would have to deal with increased demand on the healthcare system due to people delaying routine check ups that “isn’t necessarily obvious to us now.”

“Plus, there’s a big challenge in getting elective surgery,” he said.

The state’s elective surgery waitlist ballooned during the pandemic, with 80,000 people on the elective surgery waitlist at the end of December. The Victorian president of the Australian Medical Association, Roderick McRae, has warned the waitlist may have risen to as high as 120,000.

The Andrews government this month unveiled a $1.5bn package to help clear the backlog of deferred elective surgery procedures

Reacting to the premier’s calls for the funding extension, the opposition’s health spokesperson, Georgie Crozier, said Victorians were “sick of Daniel Andrews’ excuses and blame shifting”.

“This crisis was caused by years of Labor mismanagement prior to Covid. To now blame shift is simply playing politics instead of pursuing the reforms needed to fix Victoria’s health crisis,” Crozier said.

Stephen Duckett, a former head of the federal department of health, said the 50:50 funding model should remain in place to help states catch up on elective surgeries that had been paused to ensure there was enough hospital capacity for Covid patients.

“You don’t want to make it unlimited, but you might say it goes at least into the next financial year,” he said.

The Age reported in February that the governments of NSW, Victoria and Queensland had all petitioned the commonwealth for a 50:50 funding split for all costs. Under the current agreement, the federal government contributes 45% of hospital funding, but also places a cap when growth rises above 6.5%.

The Australian Medical Association – which supports a 50:50 split – has estimated the change and removal of the cap would cost the commonwealth $20.5bn across a four-year period.

A spokesperson for the federal health minister, Greg Hunt – who will leave politics after next month’s election – said the Coalition had doubled funding for public hospitals since it was elected in 2013.

“Two weeks ago, in the 2022-23 budget, the Morrison government boosted public hospital funding by a record $10bn over four years, a record single investment into health by any government in Australian history,” the spokesperson said.

“Despite commonwealth funding more than doubling since 2012-13, Victorian government funding for their own hospitals has only grown by 69%. There is nothing stopping the Victorian government funding their hospitals appropriately by matching the commonwealth’s growth in funding.”

The latest report by the national productivity watchdog found Victoria spends less money for each person in the public hospital system than any other jurisdiction in the country and fell below the national average on key benchmarks even before the pandemic began.


Adeshola Ore

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Daniel Andrews says deaths of 33 people waiting for ambulances not linked to triple-zero agency funding
Victorian premier apologises to the families of people who died during pandemic due to emergency services delays

Benita Kolovos

06, Sep, 2022 @4:37 AM

Article image
Too soon to say when Victoria will end snap Covid lockdown, Daniel Andrews says
At midpoint of ‘circuit breaker’ shutdown, premier says decision on easing restrictions hasn’t been made

Nino Bucci

15, Feb, 2021 @5:57 AM

Article image
Daniel Andrews says he is 'accountable for any mistakes' in Victoria's Covid-19 hotel quarantine
The Victorian premier has been interrogated by the media as the state reported 471 new coronavirus cases and eight more deaths

Melissa Davey and Josh Taylor

06, Aug, 2020 @6:02 AM

Article image
Daniel Andrews says he has no confidence in Victoria's private aged care Covid-19 response
All non-urgent elective surgery in Victoria halted as state records 384 more cases and six deaths and almost 20% of aged care facilities affected by coronavirus

Melissa Davey

28, Jul, 2020 @5:09 AM

Article image
Victoria Covid update: restrictions for unvaccinated won’t ease until 2022, Daniel Andrews says
Restrictions for the unvaccinated in NSW are expected to ease in December but Victorian premier says ‘that doesn’t make any sense to me’

Cait Kelly

19, Oct, 2021 @4:41 AM

Article image
Victoria Covid update: state on track to reopen despite record 2,297 cases, Daniel Andrews says
State reports national record of infections and 11 deaths as announcement on easing restrictions expected within days

Cait Kelly

14, Oct, 2021 @1:23 AM

Article image
Daniel Andrews hopeful Australia will redefine fully vaccinated as three doses of Covid jab
Victoria premier speaks ahead of national cabinet as state records 15 deaths from Covid, NSW reports 29 and Queensland 15

Benita Kolovos

27, Jan, 2022 @3:00 AM

Article image
Victoria Covid update: Daniel Andrews extends lockdown after 92 new cases
Premier welcomes Scott Morrison’s commitment to distribute vaccines fairly, but expresses frustration that NSW’s extra doses have been used so people can have picnics

Justine Landis-Hanley

29, Aug, 2021 @4:26 AM

Article image
Halve cap on international arrivals to cut risk of lockdowns, Daniel Andrews says
Flights should be limited until a critical mass of Australians are vaccinated, Victoria’s premier says

Calla Wahlquist

29, Jun, 2021 @1:33 AM

Article image
Victoria’s Covid restrictions ease as Daniel Andrews reveals 25km travel bubble and scraps exercise time limit
Melbourne to resume real estate auctions and reopen hairdressers and outdoor sporting facilities as state records two new cases

Lisa Cox

18, Oct, 2020 @2:36 AM