The Albanese administration has presented its first budget, with $30.6 billion for senior care and a total commitment of $104.1 billion to health care.
Australian primary healthcare will undergo a systemic overhaul thanks to a $2.9 billion programme. The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP, declared in a statement that Medicare will be enhanced, underlining its authenticity and purpose as a pillar of the health system. 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics will be opened by the government in an effort to relieve the strain on the hospital system.
A $235 million budget from 2022 to 2023 will support the start of the rollout, including $100 million over two years from 2022 to 2023 to co-develop and test innovative solutions with states and territories to enhance treatment pathways and guide the rollout of the urgent care programme.
A new GP grants programme will expand neighbourhood GP practises and enhance care ($229.7 million). The Australian Medical Association (AMA) praised the federal government for following through on its election promises by allocating $980 million for general practise, but cautioned that given the strain on the healthcare system, the May 2023 Budget must prioritise health.
The government has put aside $750 million for its Strengthening Medicare Fund to support the proposals of the Improving Medicare Taskforce, which are due by the end of this year, according to AMA President Professor Steve Robson. They are happy to see that the government intends to move swiftly with the distribution of $229.7 million in GP infrastructure funding of up to $50,000 each, which will assist general practises in improving their digital capability, making investments in infection control, and meeting accreditation standards. The government’s $143.3 million pledge to promote access to healthcare in rural and regional areas was also welcomed by the AMA.
The Budget’s other significant health-related highlights include:
- An investment of $39 million will be made in the Newborn Bloodspot Screening Programs to boost the number and consistency of diseases screened (NBS). Updated clinical recommendations for prenatal care and improved postnatal care are part of a $5.9 million investment to improve women’s health before, during, and after pregnancy. A comprehensive national network of perinatal mental health and wellbeing centres will be funded with $26.2 million, while families that have lost a child to stillbirth will receive greater help with $13.9 million.
- Funding for a range of programmes aimed at preventing suicide and improving mental health (23.5 million dollars). National consultations will start to examine the particular health problems and impediments to care that LGBTIQ+ Australians of $1.3m confront.
- A National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit will be established, and $3.4 million will be used to create Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy.
- A $314.5 million grant will help First Nations peoples live healthier lives and will enable us to act right away to show their dedication to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
- Funding for research into the chronic illnesses that disproportionately impact members of the First Nations will begin. The amount allocated to rheumatic heart disease prevention in high-risk areas will rise to $14.2 million. Renal services will be improved with financing of $45 million for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units for up to 30 sites. The government will invest $22.5 million in the construction of a specialised birthing centre of excellence in New South Wales to offer First Nations families comprehensive support services. They are aware of its importance in enhancing First Nations peoples’ long-term development and health.
- Cheaper prescription drugs for Australian families will be thought about. The maximum cost of general prescriptions covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will decrease for the first time in its 75-year history. The $42.50 maximum co-payment will be reduced to $30 ($787.1m) as of January 1, 2023.
- With increasing investments in preventative health and enhanced mental health assistance, funding is being provided to solve the workforce shortages, particularly outside of major cities. The outstanding Innovative Models of Care programme will get new financing totaling $24.7 million as part of the $185.3 million Rural Workforce package, which will also assist and retain more physicians and allied health professionals in rural and regional regions. GPs and rural generalists with expert practise abilities will be eligible for incentives of up to $10,500 to practise in rural and remote regions ($74.1m). Through the Workforce Incentive Program ($29.4m), more healthcare workers will be eligible for pay assistance. By 2026, the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program will have received $5.6 million in funding to expand to more than 1,000 positions in rural Australia annually. 20 new medical training positions at James Cook University will receive $13.2 million in Commonwealth funding, which will improve rural health in Northern Queensland.