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Guaranteeing essential services - record investment in health

The 2018–19 Budget is guaranteeing the essential health services that Australians rely on, with a $12.4 billion increase in the Health Budget and a $414.5 billion investment in health, aged care and sport.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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The 2018–19 Budget is guaranteeing the essential health services that Australians rely on, with a $12.4 billion increase in the Health Budget and a $414.5 billion investment in health, aged care and sport.

We will increase:

  • Medicare funding by $4.8 billion;
  • public hospital funding by more than $30 billion;
  • investment in new medicines by $2.4 billion; and
  • funding for aged care by $5.0 billion.

We will invest in a National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan of $1.3 billion, including a ground-breaking $500 million Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission.

The Government is also delivering the More Choices for a Longer Life Package to help Australians maximise the opportunities that a longer life brings.

Guaranteeing Medicare with record funding

The Turnbull Government will continue our absolute rock-solid commitment to Medicare with an additional $4.8 billion investment, building on the Medicare Guarantee Fund we established last year.

For 2017-18, $34.4 billion has been credited to the Fund. A further credit of $35.3 billion will be made to meet the estimated Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) expenditure for 2018-19.

Medicare spending is guaranteed and increasing every year from $24 billion in 2017-18 to $28.8 billion in 2021-22 to support healthcare for every Australian.

Indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, which the Government reintroduced in last year’s Budget will deliver an additional $1.5 billion for Medicare services through to 2021-22.

Following recommendations from the expert MBS Review Taskforce and the independent Medical Services Advisory Committee we will provide new Medicare support for renal dialysis in remote communities, MRI scans for prostate cancer checks, a new cutting edge 3D mammography test for the early detection of breast cancer and new genetic testing for cystic fibrosis.

More choices for a longer life

The 2018-19 Budget will deliver the More Choices For a Longer Life package which will support older Australians to live longer and be better prepared, healthier, more independent and connected to their communities,

The Package gives older Australians more choices and greater flexibility, including:

  • An additional 14,000 high-level home care packages so older Australians can stay in their homes longer if they want to;
  • Allowing pensioners to earn more without reducing their pension;
  • Greater flexibility to use home equity to increase retirement incomes.

Since the last Budget, the Turnbull Government has delivered an extra 20,000 high-level home care packages, to support people to live at home longer.

We will provide 13,500 new residential aged care places and 775 short-term restorative places to be made available where they are most needed, plus $60 million for capital investment.

We will also invest $40.0 million to support aged care providers in regional, rural and remote Australia for urgent building and maintenance works.

More than $105 million will improve access to culturally safe aged care services in remote Indigenous communities.

The Turnbull Government will establish an Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to create a tough cop on the beat to ensure older Australians receive the best possible care, with an additional $50 million to assist providers implement the new standards.

MyAged Care will be improved with an investment of $61.7 million to make it easier to use, along with simplifying the forms required to apply for aged care services, and $7.4 million to trial navigators to assist people to choose the aged care services that suit their needs.

We will invest $32.8 million to improve palliative care for older Australians living in residential aged care, filling current gaps in support services, $5.3 million for innovations in managing dementia, and $102.5 million for mental health programs for older Australians.

And people over 65 will be assisted to undertake more physical activity, with locally-based sporting organisations receiving grants totalling $22.9 million to deliver new programs for older Australians.

The Government is helping Australians to work for as long as they want, laying the foundations for a secure retirement. We will provide up to $10,000 in Restart wage subsidies for employing Australians aged 50 and over. The Skills and Training incentive will provide up to $2,000 to fund up-skilling opportunities for mature aged workers.

The 2018-19 Budget delivers measures to boost living standards and expand retirement income options to give retirees confidence in their financial security.

We are increasing the Pension Work Bonus to allow age pensioners to earn an extra $50 per fortnight without reducing their pension. The Pension Loans Scheme will be expanded giving greater flexibility to use home equity to boost retirement incomes, e.g. up to $17,787 a year for a full rate age pensioner (couple).

Providing record access to life-saving and life-improving medicines

The Turnbull Government will invest $2.4 billion on new medicines to build on our commitment to guarantee those essential services that all Australians rely on. This includes a new $1 billion provision to maintain our commitment to listing all new medicines recommendation by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Unlike Labor, we list and will continue to list, every single drug recommended by the medical experts – the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee – with approximately $9 billion of investment in new drug listings since coming into government.

In particular, the Government will provide $703.6 million for the listing of Kisqali ® on the PBS to support women with breast cancer. Without subsidy, patients would pay $71,820 per year.

We will also list Spinraza ® on the PBS, a life-changing medicine which treats the devastating illness Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Without subsidy, patients would pay more than $367,850 per year. These new listings mean patients will have access to these medicines paying a maximum of $39.50 per script. Concessional patients, including pensioners, will pay just $6.40.

The Turnbull Government has also signed a landmark agreement with Medicines Australia to improve access to life saving medicines for rare diseases through key reforms to the Life Saving Drugs Program.

Record Commonwealth funding for public hospitals

The Government will deliver more than $30 billion in additional public hospital funding under a five-year National Health Agreement, with funding increasing for every state and territory, every year.

From 2020-21 to 2024-25, the new agreement will deliver a record $130.2 billion in public hospital funding, with six of Australia’s eight states and territories now covered by this new agreement, including three Labor governments and three Liberal governments.

This represents a more than doubling of public hospital funding under the Coalition Government, rising from $13.3 billion in 2012-13 to $28.7 billion in 2024-25.

Supporting better mental health for all Australians

The Turnbull Government will deliver an increase of $338.1 million in mental health funding, with a focus on suicide prevention, research and older Australians and advancing the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

We will expand the beyondblue Way Back Support Service across Australia, which provides outreach, follow-up care and practical support to people discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt. This will see an investment of $37.6 million.

We will provide Lifeline Australia $33.8 million to support its phone counselling services, and SANE Australia will receive $1.2 million for the Better off With You campaign.

The Government will fund a new Million Minds Mission through the Medical Research Future Fund. Over the next 10 years, $125 million will be invested in new research to support an additional million people with mental illness, through new research, diagnosis and treatment.

Men over 85 years of age have the highest risk of suicide for all ages. That’s why the Government will deliver $82.5 million for psychological services in residential aged care, while mental health nurses will help develop and deliver a $20 million program to support older Australians in the community who are isolated and at risk.

The National Mental Health Commission will receive an increase of $12.4 million to oversee mental health reform and take an expanded role under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. Funding of $4.7 million will support the continued operation of Head to Health, the new digital gateway for mental health services.

We will also fund the Royal Flying Doctor Service for mental health outreach, which will receive $20.4 million to ensure regional and rural Australians get care wherever they are.

Life-saving and job creating investment in medical research

The Government will deliver $6 billion in record funding for Australia’s health and medical research sector, including $3.5 billion for the National Health and Medical Research Council, $2 billion in disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund and $500 million from the Biomedical Translation Fund.

The foundation of the Government’s commitment to health and medical research is a new job boosting $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan, to improve health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of Australians, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and develop the next generation of Australia’s global leading industries.

The centrepiece of the Plan is a $500 million Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission which will help more than 200,000 Australians live longer and receive better treatment tailored to their medical needs.

The first genomics project will be Mackenzie’s Mission, with $20 million being provided for a pre-conception screening trial for rare and debilitating birth disorders including Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Fragile X and Cystic Fibrosis.

We will also establish a new $240 million Frontier Science Program to develop innovative medical ideas, research, devices and treatments.

Clinical trials offer the hope of better diagnosis, treatment and ultimately cures. The Turnbull Government will provide $248 million to support clinical trial activity through the highly successful rare cancer, rare diseases and unmet need clinical trials and registries program.

We will also establish a new $125 million chronic disease fund, the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator, with a focus on diabetes and cardiac disease.

Stronger Rural Health Strategy to deliver high quality care

The Turnbull Government will deliver the most comprehensive rural health package in decades, which will improve access to doctors, nurses and other health care services for all Australians, especially those in the regions.

The Stronger Rural Health Strategy will improve the delivery of healthcare by ensuring we have the right health care professionals located in the regions. It will provide greater opportunities for Australian doctors through better teaching, training, recruitment and retention. The package will see growth in multidisciplinary care and increased access to nursing and allied health services.

This comprehensive strategy has been developed in close consultation with the AMA, RACGP, ACRRM and other rural medical leaders.

In order to support teaching in the regions, we will invest $95.4 million to create the new Murray Darling Medical Schools Network comprising of the University of NSW (Wagga Wagga), University of Sydney (Dubbo), Charles Sturt University/Western Sydney University (Orange), Monash University (Bendigo, Mildura), and University of Melbourne/La Trobe University (Bendigo, Wodonga, Shepparton). The Government will also include Curtin University (for medical training) and La Trobe University (for nursing and allied health training) in the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program.

This will be done while retaining the existing number of Commonwealth Supported Places for medical students.

This is a fundamental change in the teaching and supply of rural and regional doctors and will transform rural training schools, enabling students to undertake most of their education and training in rural areas to provide a continuum for doctors to learn, train and work in the regions.

The Stronger Rural Health Strategy will mean more Australian doctors for the regions.

Better targeting support to improve Indigenous health

The Budget provides ever greater support for our effort to Close the Gap and better targets funding to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with funding for Indigenous Health of $3.9 billion from 2018-19 to 2021-22 and $10 billion over a decade.

In particular, the Turnbull Government will deliver $33.4 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, and provide funding to prevent and treat complex and chronic health conditions including eye disease ($34.3 million), hearing loss ($30.0 million), and crusted scabies ($4.8 million).

Boosting essential infant and maternal health services

To give Australian children the best possible start in life, we are investing $77.9 million in infant and maternal health and for the first 2,000 days of a child’s life.

This includes $17.5 million for maternal and infant health medical research.

Health professionals will give parents-to-be simple and effective guidance on staying healthy during pregnancy with a $3.0 million program.

The Government will extend the childhood immunisation education campaign, targeting areas with low vaccination rates.

Every mother will be given the opportunity to vaccinate against whooping cough, with $39.5 million to fund the pertussis vaccine to all pregnant women.

To help parents keep track of their children’s health from birth, the Government will introduce a national digital baby book with $5.0 million of funding, replacing state and territory hard copy baby books, and giving children their passport to a lifelong health record.

We will invest $6.2 million to subsidise the cost of more insulin pumps for children with type 1 diabetes.

With injury the leading cause of death of children aged one to 16 years, the Government will fund $0.9 million for the development of a new National Injury Prevention Strategy aimed at reducing childhood injuries. In addition, funding of $1.0 million for the SeeMore Safety Program will support preschool and kindergarten children and their families to reduce the number of preventable childhood injuries.

We will also roll out a new $1 million program to assist GPs to learn more about endometriosis, so they can better diagnose and treat the condition, which can affect around one in ten women and is a key contributor to infertility.

Promoting a healthy and active Australia

The Turnbull Government will invest $230 million to implement a range of sport and physical activity initiatives that will see more Australians, more active, more often.

This investment builds on our national strengths and will provide more opportunities for Australians to participate in sport and physical activity and promote healthy, active life styles.

The Government will invest $28.9 million in participation grants targeted at less active Australians.

This includes an extension of the Local Sporting Champions grants program which will see more than 3,000 additional young athletes receiving support, including for young athletes in the regions to attend competitions.

The Government will also provide $41.7 million towards extending the popular Sporting Schools Program which provides opportunities for children to participate in sport by reducing the financial burden for parents and building a culture of the enjoyment and benefits of sport for a digitally focused generation.

The Government is acting to reduce drowning at Australia’s beaches, rivers and waterways, as well as improving safety on our snow fields through the Water and Snow Safety Program, with a total investment of $48.5 million.

Participation in sport is vital for the health and wellbeing of all Australians, and is foundational to the Government’s sport plan which will be released later this year.

The Turnbull Government is delivering a strong economy which means we can guarantee the essentials that Australians rely on like Medicare, hospitals, lifesaving medicines and aged care.

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