The Australian Government is aware of the significant impact that diabetes has on individuals and their families, and is committed to working towards the broad prevention of the disease, and its associated complications, in the Australian community. A National Diabetes Strategy (2016-20) has been developed which will guide national action and priorities to prevent diabetes and support Australians living with diabetes.
On 1 April 2017, the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced that the Australian Government would provide fully subsidised continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products to eligible children and young people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), in line with the commitment made during the 2016 Federal Election.
Throughout the implementation phase of this initiative, the Government, through the Department of Health, worked collaboratively with an expert advisory group, which included endocrinologists, credentialed diabetes educators and stakeholder organisations, to allocate the $54 million budget available for this initiative in the most clinically appropriate manner.
The advisory group recommended that people with type 1 diabetes who experience significant difficulty in managing their blood glucose levels should be a high priority for access to CGM. In addition, the advisory group confirmed that people under 21 years of age are the group with the highest clinical need for assistance in managing their condition through the use of CGM technology.
However, the outcomes of this initiative are being monitored and evaluated to inform any future consideration by the Government regarding the expansion of the CGM initiative. Any decision to expand the initiative would also need to be considered against other priorities in the Health Budget.
The Government provides considerable support to people with diabetes under other programs already in operation. This includes the subsidy of essential medicines, like insulin, under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and diabetes-related products through the NDSS.
The NDSS was established in 1987 to provide the subsidised products and services needed for the effective self-management of diabetes. It delivers subsidised syringes and needles, blood glucose test strips, urine ketone test strips and insulin pump consumables to people with diabetes. The NDSS also provides educational and information services to assist in the best use of products and self-management of diabetes.
In 2017-18, expenditure on medicines for diabetes was over $597 million and expenditure on products for diabetes supplied through the NDSS was over $205 million, with an additional $3 million for the first three months of the CGM initiative. This Government also provided $35 million to the JDRF Clinical Research Network to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
The Government also funds an Insulin Pump Program (IPP) to provide fully subsidised insulin pumps and subsidised insulin pump consumables for financially disadvantaged families who have children aged 18 years and under with type 1 diabetes but do not have access to other means of reimbursement, such as private health insurance.
It was announced in the 2018-19 Budget that in addition to previous funding for this program of $522,000 (GST excl.) per financial year, a further $6.2 million has been committed over four years (from 2018-19 – 2021-22) to expand the program. The expansion of the IPP means that a minimum of 220 children with type 1 diabetes from financially disadvantaged families will be able to access fully subsidised insulin pumps each year.