O'Byrne seeking $6m fund return

STATE Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne has written to her federal counterpart as a matter of priority to see if more than $6 million in health funding can be reinstated.

That is Tasmania's share of federal funding nationally that was withdrawn late last year.

Ms O'Byrne's move yesterday came after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced she would reverse a decision to cut more than $107 million from the Victorian public health system.

It was revealed Tasmania stood to lose $6 million from the same funding round late last year as a result of changes in the national specific purpose payments for health care.

State health ministers found out at a national meeting chaired by Ms O'Byrne last November that one of the new prerequisites for the federal funding was anticipated population growth which had evidently not happened.

The funding reduction was to be applied retrospectively, with Victoria being one of the biggest losers facing a cut of more than $107 million.

State health ministers last December called on federal Treasury to urgently review the decision revealed as part of the federal government's mid-year financial report.

Ms Gillard told Victorians yesterday that their $107 million would be restored but it would not be distributed through the Liberal state government coffers.

It will instead be paid directly to the state's Local Hospital Networks.

Ms O'Byrne said that she would seek clarification from federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek on the Victorian decision.

"Specifically I will be seeking to know the implications for other jurisdictions and whether this decision encompasses new money that may also apply to Tasmania," Ms O'Byrne said.

"I am also wanting to know what impact this decision will have on other federal funding for Victoria."

It is understood that there are concerns that the new money might flow only at the expense of other anticipated funding.

State opposition health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said that Ms O'Byrne should have campaigned before now for Tasmania's share of the federal government cuts to be reversed.


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