Queensland will receive more than $300 million in backdated hospital funding, although the state government says Canberra still owes it $700 million.
The Turnbull government has agreed to pay $309.2 million in back pay for 2014-2016, sweetening the deal for Queensland to sign on to the new federal hospital funding plan.
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad on Friday said the money was a good start, but the federal government still owed the state $700 million for 2016-17.
“We are keen to sign the agreement but we are also keen to ensure the Commonwealth has a pathway in place to assess and pay the money owed to Queensland as soon as possible,” Ms Trad told reporters in Brisbane.
“I spoke to the health minister (Steven Miles) this morning and he will be continuing to have discussions with federal minister Greg Hunt around making sure those monies are paid.”
Dr Miles wants stronger wording in the next agreement to force the federal government to pay within a given time frame.
“Our hospitals started to get concerned if they are ever going to get this money going forward, and that has started to affect their budget planning for how many operations they could perform say next year,” he told ABC Radio on Friday.
The two levels of government have been at loggerheads for years over the funding, with a new five-year agreement set to pump an extra $7 billion into the state’s hospitals.
At a COAG meeting in February, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to sign a new hospital funding arrangement with the Commonwealth until the funding gap issue was addressed.
“If that is forthcoming, we would be satisfied,” Ms Palaszczuk said at the time.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Courier Mail their decision was based on the recent Independent Hospital Pricing Authority report.
“The Turnbull Government is committed to increasing funding to Australia’s public hospitals through a new National Health Agreement,” Mr Hunt said.