As nursing pushes further into the realm of primary health care in Australia, an understanding of the challenges to achieving reasonable federal funding of nursing services needs to be understood. This understanding is underpinned by a comprehensive understanding of the concept of universal health care, how the concept relates to the Australian health care context, and the resultant challenges to innovation in health care service delivery in Australia. Universal health care is a global mission and was the most recent theme for the International Council of Nurses Congress in Australia. Universal health care as a concept represents a fundamental shift from the development and funding of discrete interventions or programmes, to that of developing systems of health care. The three critical elements required are a clear definition of what is considered health care and funded for who, how the system is financed, and evaluation. Australia has a system of universal health care and all three elements are addressed. Organised medicine, a key objector to the introduction of the current approach to universal health care in Australia, soon adapted to it, and now fiercely resists change. Medico centricity poses challenges to sustainability as innovation is inhibited. This challenge is illustrated through consideration of the implementation of the financial policy that gave Nurse Practitioners access as providers and prescribers within Medicare funded services.