Anthony Albanese following a National Cabinet meeting, July 16 2022 (Image: AAP Image/Paul Braven)
Anthony Albanese after Saturday's national cabinet meeting (Image: AAP Image/Paul Braven)

While everyone, politicians included, wants to move on from the pandemic, COVID clearly has other plans for us. And it has other plans for government spending.

The virus has ushered in a remarkable change in health funding. In 2019-20, the Commonwealth's total health and aged care budget, as estimated in May 2019, was to be $73 billion. Funding for state and territory hospitals, handed out under national agreements, was planned to be about $22.5 billion.

The best-laid plans, etc. Spending in 2019-20 ended up at $77 billion for the Commonwealth and hospital funding at $25 billion. And that was only until June 2020, early in the pandemic. Much worse was to come in 2021: health funding was supposed to be just under $90 billion and hospitals $25.6 billion. They ended up, according to the April budget papers this year, at $98.5 billion and $29.6 billion.