2019-2020 Federal Budget health snapshot
The Federal Government has announced a $104 billion investment into health in 2019–20 in the latest Federal Budget, as part of a patient-focused health investment of $435 billion over the next four years. Here’s a snapshot of the health budget breakdown for 2019.
2019 Health Budget Snapshot:
- Medicare boosted by $6 billion
- with $1.1 billion for Primary Care
- Hospital funding boosted by $5 billion
- on top of the $1.25 billion Community Health and Hospitals Program (CHHP)
- Aged Care funding boosted by $7 billion
- $40 billion for life-saving and life-changing medicines provisioned in the forward estimates
- $5 billion for a 10-year Medical Research Future Fund investment plan
- $736.6 million for mental health including youth suicide prevention
- $1 billion for Indigenous health
- Over $1 billion for child dental services
“The Budget consolidates and continues our health reform agenda,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Federal Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt stated in a joint media release. “It reinforces the four pillars of our long term national health plan – guaranteeing Medicare and improving access to medicines, supporting our hospitals, prioritising mental health and preventive health and investing in health and medical research.”
Medicare funding is increasing from $24.9 billion in 2018–19, to $30.7 billion in 2022–23. The Medicare Guarantee Fund, established in 2017–18, allocates $36.6 billion in guaranteed funds for spending on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in 2019–20.
Breakdown of Medicare funding includes:
- Increased Medicare rebate for important diagnostic services, including ultrasound and X-ray imaging to reduce the costs to patients ($198.6 million investment): This is aimed to support Australians’ access to bulk-billed diagnostic imaging services. It also aims to encourage radiologists, obstetricians, cardiologists and other specialties to maintain or increase their level of bulk-billing.
- Expanding the number of Medicare-eligible MRI machines to over 50 newly funded units in the past 12 months ($151.9 million investment): New MBS services for MRI of the breast, costing $32.6 million over four years, are set to help diagnosis for around 14,000 breast cancer patients each year.
- Continued recommended improvements to the MBS: New and amended Medicare-eligible services will support breast cancer, prostate cancer and brain surgery patients, people having X-rays, and patients in private hospital emergency departments and intensive care units.
- Initiatives to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs for Australians: Including implementing the first stage of the Federal Government response to, the report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs.
- Publicly availability of the fees and resulting out-of-pocket costs charged by medical specialists, with an initial focus on specialist fees for gynaecology, obstetrics, and cancer services: This will be supported by a community awareness campaign, including a website. This is set to increase transparency, and enable people, particularly those with private health insurance, to be more informed about costs when choosing a specialist.
Strengthening primary care
The new $1.1 billion ‘Strengthening Primary Care’ package, which builds on the $512 million package in the 2018–19 MYEFO, is set to support Australia’s doctors and specialists to deliver improved access and outcomes for patients.
- Greater support to GPs to provide enhanced care services: The Government will invest $448.5 million in increased funding to deliver a new population-based funding approach to support GPs to provide enhanced care and services, initially focussing on Australians over 70 years.
- More personalised care for Australians over 70: Australians over the age of 70 will be able to voluntarily enter into an agreement with their general practitioner, and receive more personalised, coordinated care, with usual services continuing to be rebatable for the patient under Medicare. GPs and others in their practice will be able to provide consultations, referrals, scripts and test results remotely – without seeing patients face-to-face. This aims to make it easier and more convenient for people to access timely care and medical advice.
- PIP Quality Improvement investment: Doctors will be further supported by a $201.5 million boost for the Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement Initiative, including retention of the Aged Care Access Incentive, and $187.2 million to increase rebates for 176 GP services from 1 July 2019.
- Chronic disease management: Public Health and Chronic Disease program will see a funding of $17.2 million over five years, which is set to help develop several national strategic action plans aimed at improving the lives of Australians living with chronic conditions – specifically, osteoporosis, kidney health, rare diseases, heart disease and stroke, and children’s health. The Federal Government also aims to provide a new heart health check under Medicare to better address cardiovascular disease.
- Childrens’ dental services: Eligible Australian children will continue to be able to access basic dental services and claim up to $1,000 in benefits under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, with the Government investing over $1.0 billion for the next three years from 1 January 2020.
- Childhood immunisation: A $12 million spend over the next three years is set to extend the reach of the childhood immunisation education campaign to save lives by protecting children from serious diseases.
- Rural healthcare: The National Rural Generalist Pathway will see a $62.2 million investment over five years to ensure rural generalists are trained, recognised and resourced to meet the critical health needs of rural Australians.
- Indigenous health: Improving Indigenous health remains a key target of the new Closing the Gap framework. Funding is boosted to $4.1 billion from 2019–20 to 2022–23 and more than $10 billion over a decade.
Improving access to medicines
The Federal Government has provisioned $40 billion in the forward estimates for life-saving and life-changing medicines, averaging 31 new or amended listings per month – approximately one per day.
$15 million will also be allocated for a one-off increase to community pharmacy to continue providing support to consumers, to improve the safe use of medication.
Investments into medicines include:
- Continued commitment to affordable access to medicines: through listing all medicines on the PBS that have received a positive recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
- From 1 May 2019, Ibrance® will be available on the PBS for the treatment of inoperable advanced metastatic breast cancer. Patients will pay $6.50 or $40.30 for the drug. Without subsidy, they would pay $55,000 per year.
- From 1 May 2019, Bavencio® will be available on the PBS for the treatment of metastatic merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and highly aggressive type of skin cancer. Without subsidy, they would pay $150,000 per year.
- From 1 May 2019, Besponsa® will be available on the PBS for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Without subsidy, they would pay $120,000 per year.
- Tagrisso® is now available on the PBS for the treatment of lung cancer, which would otherwise cost patients $88,000 per course of treatment.
- Opdivo® + Yervoy® is now available on the PBS for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, which would otherwise cost patients $254,200 per course of treatment.
- Venclexta® is now available on the PBS, in combination with rituximab for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, which would otherwise cost patients around $165,000 per course of treatment.
The Federal Government has increased funding for the nation’s public hospitals by $5 billion, up from $21.7 billion in 2018–19, to $26.2 billion in 2022–23.
In addition, patients in every state and territory will have access to improved health and hospital services under the $1.25 billion Community Health and Hospitals Program (CHHP).
The CHHP is set to complements investment in public hospitals, which will more than double from $13.3 billion in 2012–13 to $29.1 billion in 2024–25. The new five year National Health Reform Agreement is also set deliver more than $30 billion in additional public hospital funding from 2020–21 to 2024–25.
Addressing youth mental health and suicide prevention
The Government is boosting mental health funding by $736.6 million, with $461.1 million focused on addressing youth mental health and suicide prevention.
The Prime Minister is also set make suicide prevention a key personal priority by creating a ‘Suicide Prevention Co-ordinator’ in his department to coordinate suicide prevention initiatives across the whole of Government.
The Government’s youth mental health and suicide prevention initiative includes:
- $15 million to ensure that communities and services can respond quickly to areas affected by high incidences of suicides and self-harm by creating a new national information system.
- $15 million to empower Indigenous suicide prevention.
- $111 million to expand the headspace network by 30 – from the current 115 services to 145 by 2021, to enable more young people to access support.
- $152 million to reduce wait times at headspace centres around the country. This will bring our total investment in headspace to over $120 million a year.
- $2 million investment in the Young Ambassadors for Mental Health project, which will enrich these services by enabling young ambassadors with lived experience of mental health issues to get out into the community to promote mental health literacy, and improve how people seek help.
- $110 million to continue the Early Psychosis Youth Services program at 14 headspace centres to provide specialist clinical services for young people at the early stages of severe mental illness.
The Federal Government is also investing an additional $112 million in mental health through the CHHP with a focus on youth and Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention, and integrated community mental health.
Adult mental health centres:
To improve how people access care, and the quality of services, the Federal Government is set to deliver a trial of adult mental health centres in eight locations nationally, at a cost of $115 million. These will provide walk-in, coordinated care and advice for anyone with concerns, and will address what is seen by many as a missing gap in the health system.
Perinatal mental health:
Perinatal mental health services will be given $43.9 million to support Australians affected by perinatal mental illness during or after pregnancy, or experiencing grief after the death of an infant.
Workplace mental health:
$11.5 million investment in the National Mental Health Workplace Initiative is set to support businesses – from sole traders to multinationals – and workers to create a mentally healthy workplace, giving workers the opportunity to maintain the best possible mental health and wellbeing.
Investing in medical research
The Government is allocating $6 billion over the forward estimates for medical research, with $3.5 billion for the National Health and Medical Research Council, $0.5 billion for the Biotechnology Translation Fund, and $2.3 billion for the MRFF – up from $222 million in 2018–19 to $650 million in 2022–23.
The Government is also committing to a new $5 billion 10-year MRFF investment plan across four themes Patients, Researchers, Missions and Translation. Under the Patients theme, the government will invest $614 million in the rare cancers, rare diseases clinical trials program.
Investing in preventive health
The Budget is set to fund a range of preventive health initiatives to tackle some of Australia’s most pressing social and health challenges. These include lifestyle-related blood diseases, drugs, family and domestic violence, and unhealthy eating.
$45.4 million is allocated to implement national awareness and prevention strategies to reduce the impact of blood borne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and sexually transmissible infections, such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. These strategies focus on the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Alcohol and drugs:
- More alcohol and other drug treatment and support services will be established in remote, rural and regional areas, costing $9.6 million.
- An additional 65 specialist service providers will operate after hours and on weekends across hundreds of under-serviced areas.
- Funding of $4.3 million is also set to provide local support for families and communities struggling with the impacts of illicit drug misuse, including ice.
- $7.2 million will help establish a take-home naloxone program to reduce deaths associated with opioids. Naloxone is a proven treatment in reversing the effect of an opioid overdose.
Family and domestic violence:
- A ‘Recognise, Respond, Refer’ pilot, already under way in Brisbane, will receive a $7.5 million boost to be extended across five Primary Health Network regions to train GPs and their staff to recognise and manage family violence.
- A complementary $2.1 million training initiative will further improve the domestic violence response of GPs and primary care workers nationally.
- The Government will allocate $20 million for a pivotal anti-smoking campaign.
Supporting senior Australians
The Federal Government has increased funding for aged care by $7 billion over the forward estimates, up from $13.3 billion in 2012–13 to $20.5 billion in 2018–19 to $25.4 billion in 2022–23.
Breakdown of aged care funding includes:
- Increasing the number of home care packages: From 124,032 in 2018–19 to 157,154 in 2022–23: as part of an ongoing response to senior Australians’ clear preference to receive aged care in their own homes and live independently for longer.
- Home care compliance investment: $5.6 million to strengthen compliance to tackle the risk of poor quality service and fraud in home care. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission – Australia’s new cop on the aged care beat – will have a key role, including increasing home care audits.
- The Commonwealth Home Support Program: will be extended for a further two years to 30 June 2022, representing an investment of $5.9 billion. This is set to give greater certainty to around 1500 organisations, such as meals-on-wheels, supporting almost one million older Australians as they age and start to require assistance while still living in their own home.
- Investment into residential aged care: the Government has invested $320 million in 2018–19 as a one-off increase to the general subsidy through to 30 June 2020. This will support the increase in residential places from 186,000 in 2012–13 to 212,000 in 2018–19 to 243,000 in 2022–23. The Government aims to also work to significantly improve monitoring and reporting of serious incidents involving residents, including incidents involving physical or chemical restraint.
- Aged care medication funding: Funding of $7.7 million will help to ensure the use of medication, in particular inappropriate use of psychotropics and antibiotics, in residential aged care is brought into line with best practice and community expectations. Clinical pharmacists will work directly with aged care providers to better inform them about appropriate use. Providers will be obliged to provide medication management data.
- Building the aged care workforce for the future: $2.6 million allocated to step up industry-led implementation of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy. This will improve capability, conditions and career opportunities for more than 366,000 aged care workers.