Carbon Tax Bad for Australian Hospitals’ Health

By:  Michael Tennant
Carbon Tax Bad for Australian Hospitals’ Health

Australia's new carbon tax has already hiked energy bills for hospitals in one state by 15 percent, forcing them to cut services to pay for it.

Australia’s recently imposed $23-per-ton carbon tax is wreaking havoc across the continent. The tax went into effect only last July, but already it is contributing to record business failures, including major losses in the manufacturing and tourism industries, and increasing family electric bills by 10 percent. It is also, according to the government of the state of Victoria, driving up healthcare costs.

A Victorian Health Ministry review of billing data from 30 of the state’s 91 hospitals revealed that in just the first six months of the carbon tax, hospitals and other health services were hit with over $6.7 million in additional energy costs. With total energy costs of $45.6 million over that same period, that means that 15 percent of their costs were directly attributable to the tax, the Melbourne Herald Sun reports.

The tax did not affect all hospitals equally. Some hospitals experienced increases of just eight percent — still a significant hike — while others saw their energy costs shoot up by a whopping 22 percent.

Victoria is the smallest mainland state in Australia but also the most densely populated state. Its capital, Melbourne, is the country’s second-largest city.

In a press release, Victorian Health Minister David Davis called the carbon tax “iniquitous” and said it “was having a very real impact on the budgets of all Victorian hospitals, resulting in a slower growth in services than would otherwise be possible.”

“This is an additional cost that is slugged on top for hospitals and health services,” he told the Herald Sun.

While the federal government does provide funding for hospitals, the current funding arrangement was agreed upon in December 2011, over six months before the carbon tax went into effect. As a result, Davis told the paper, it does “not adequately cover the new costs.”

“This is [Prime Minister] Julia Gillard putting a tax on hospitals,” he said. “We are looking for our hospitals to be compensated.”

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