Coronavirus public health partnership with the states - Commonwealth to meet 50 per cent of state costs

Media release
06 Mar 2020
Prime Minister, Minister for Health, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet

The Australian Government has committed to a 50-50 shared health funding deal with the states and territories to ensure a rapid health response to the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

The Australian Government will pay 50 per cent of the additional costs incurred by state and territory health services as a result of the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19, those suspected of having the virus or activities to prevent the spread of it.

This support will be uncapped and demand driven and our funding will rise in response to the changing health needs of Australians.

We estimate a likely partnership of $1 billion to meet state health costs including $500 million of Commonwealth funding.

Under the proposed agreement, an immediate $100 million advance payment will be delivered, on a population basis, to support states and territories as we partner together to protect the health of all Australians.

This support will cover health services provided by state or territory governments in public hospitals, primary care, aged care and community health expenditure, such as health related activities in childcare centres.

This recognises the need for immediate financial assistance so we can prepare the health system, while providing maximum flexibility to respond as the outbreak evolves.

The National Partnership Agreement would be effective from 21 January 2020; the date that ‘human coronavirus with pandemic potential’ was identified as a Listed Human Disease under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

This new support sits above the current health agreements with the states and territories, and follows the health ministers meeting last week where we activated our Emergency Plan.

Under the current agreement, the Commonwealth and the states and territories jointly fund hospital services on a 45 per cent Commonwealth and 55 per cent states and territory share basis. The states and territories are responsible and fund community health services, while the Commonwealth funds general practice and health services through Medicare.

In addition, the Australian Government is conducting two forums today with the primary care providers and the aged care sector to identify areas for additional support.

We understand that our doctors and aged care providers will be central to management of COVID-19. 

Our support will be aimed at protecting patients, particularly people with chronic conditions, and aged care residents – the groups most at risk of serious illness from the virus

As part of this the Commonwealth government will meet 100 per cent of the costs of additional Medicare services in areas such as Medicare Telehealth or home visits, increased Medicare pathology services, and the national medical stockpile.

The Government is ensuring the capacity of our health system to effectively assess, diagnose and treat people with COVID-19 in a way that minimises spread of the disease in the community.

We continue to manage the risk of the virus based on the best and latest evidence and medical advice.

The Australian Government’s aim is to slow the spread of the disease and ensure Australia stays ahead of the curve in reducing the impact of COVID-19.