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Australian Government Charged With Under-funding Public Hospitals

At a time director Michael Moores Sicko has laid bare the horrific imbalances in the US healthcare, Bushs closest ally, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, is also in similar difficulties.

A report of the Caring For Our Health, released Sunday, charged the federal government with under-funding public hospitals by a whopping $1.1 billion a year. That means 350,000 hospital admissions less.

The report was prepared jointly by Australia's six state and two territory Labor health ministers.

It also found that since 2000 the commonwealth's financial contribution to running and maintaining hospitals had fallen from 50 per cent to 45 per cent.

It estimated that within 20 years the Commonwealth would only contribute 25 per cent of the money required to run public hospitals, leaving the states and territories to cover the remaining 75 per cent.

Commenting on the report, the South Australian health minister John Hill said clearly the federal government was failing Australians and shifting the cost burden to individuals.

"The federal government is failing Australians - we have a shortage of GPs, and health costs are rising," Mr Hill said in a statement.

"Australians are paying more than ever for healthcare, while our public hospitals are under-funded by the Commonwealth."

Hill said 10 years ago Australians spent the equivalent of $9 billion out of their own pockets on health care, but now that was up to $15 billion.

"Costs of health are rising faster than inflation but the burden is being shifted by the federal government to the individual," he said.

The minister also said the federal government needed to work with the states and territories to plan for the future of the health system, with the ageing population and medical workforce two major challenges.

"We will face even more dramatic shortages of health professionals in the future and this will have a
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