Budget 2023–⁠24: Building a stronger Medicare

The Albanese Government is making Medicare stronger for all Australians, delivering critical funding for the urgent needs of today, and reforms for the healthcare of tomorrow.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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After 9 long years of cuts and neglect, the Albanese Government is making Medicare stronger for all Australians, delivering critical funding for the urgent needs of today, and reforms for the healthcare of tomorrow.

Our historic investments in Medicare will triple the bulk billing incentive, in the largest increase to the incentive in the 40-year history of Medicare.

We’re delivering cheaper medicines for 6 million Australians, halving the costs of medicines and halving the number of visits to the doctor and the pharmacy.

We’re making it easier for Australians to get the care they need, by growing the health workforce and supporting all our trusted health workers to do what they’re trained to do.

Overall Australian Government spending on health, aged care and sport in 2023-24 is $137.6 billion.

The Australian Government has committed $101.0 billion in health, $36.0 billion in aged care and $563.1 million in sport, bringing the total four year commitment to $580 billion.

This includes investments to build a stronger Medicare ($5.7b), health prevention and protection ($1.1b), tackling smoking and vaping ($737.0m), mental health and suicide prevention ($586.9m), and First Nations health ($818.5m).

This Budget strikes the right balance between spending and savings, between much-needed reform and fiscal responsibility.

More bulk billing, cheaper medicines and more affordable care

  • $3.5 billion in bulk billing incentives. We are tripling these incentives to address the sharp decline in bulk billing over the past few years. This is the largest increase to the bulk billing incentive in the 40-year history of Medicare. It will have immediate benefits for more than 11 million Australians, with flow on benefits for all Australians. Incentives will cover many common GP consultations, including telehealth and videoconference – making care more affordable, particularly for children, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders.
  • Making common medicines cheaper. Australians will be able to buy 2 months’ worth of medicine for the price of a single (one month) prescription for more than 300 common PBS medicines. This will halve patients’ visits to the GP and pharmacist – saving patients an estimated $1.6 billion and freeing up millions of GP appointments. Medicines to treat COVID-19 and cystic fibrosis are being expanded or added to the PBS, saving patients thousands of dollars a year.
  • Extending public dental services. 360,000 adults on lower incomes will have continued access to public dental services, while work continues on long-overdue long-term reform worth $219.4 million.

Making it easier to get the care you need

  • $358.5 million for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, with more clinics in more places. This will free up overstretched GPs, take pressure off hospitals and improve access to affordable care. Eight new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics will be fully resourced and operating this year, open for longer hours and with no out-of-pocket cost for patients. This takes the total number of clinics around the country to 58.
  • $143.9 million for after hours primary care. We are improving access to after-hours care, through the Primary Health Networks After Hours Program and Healthdirect. These programs improve access to services for people affected by homelessness and for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.
  • MyMedicare. This is a new voluntary scheme to create a stronger relationship between patients and their primary care teams. Patients can enrol with a general practice registered with MyMedicare, to get better continuity of care and easier access to telehealth consultations. MyMedicare will provide practices with more comprehensive information about their regular patients, while giving patients and their care team access to additional funding packages, tailored to their health needs. MyMedicare will also support longer GP telehealth consultations with reduced administration for practices ($5.9m); provide new funding packages for general practices to provide comprehensive care to patients who are frequent hospital users ($98.9m); and for Australians in residential aged care ($112.0m).
  • $98.2 million for new Medicare rebates. Patients who require consultations of longer than 60 minutes will receive a larger Medicare rebate – giving doctors support to provide high quality care to people with chronic or complex needs, including mental health issues.
  • $47.8 million for wound care. Patients with diabetes and chronic wounds, in particular, will benefit from this additional funding to improve access to more affordable, high-quality wound care.
  • $445.1 million to expand general practice. We are significantly increasing incentives for general practices to employ a range of health professionals to provide team-based primary care. Smaller practices will also be able to complement their teams with the services of allied health professionals that have been commissioned by Primary Health Networks ($79.4m).
  • $951.2 million for digital health. The Australian Digital Health Agency will upgrade and modernise My Health Record, making it easier for patients and providers to use and support the secure, safe and efficient sharing of information. This will improve health outcomes for patients and reduce duplication in the system.
  • $29.8 million as an initial investment to reduce fraud. Importantly, this Budget includes immediate actions to reduce Medicare fraud – including a taskforce within the Department of Health and Aged Care to oversee longer-term improvements to Medicare integrity.

A growing workforce with more support for health workers to do what they’re trained to do

Our investment will grow a skilled, diverse, motivated, well-distributed and sustainable primary health care workforce – making it easier for all Australians to get affordable care when and where they need it.

  • $81.8 million for changes to scholarship arrangements. Focusing on nursing, midwifery, First Nations health workers and international medical graduates, these scholarships will boost the workforce in regional and rural areas and areas of workforce shortage including aged care.
  • $4.5 million for expansion of Single Employer Model trials. This works for GP registrars in regional, rural and remote locations, so they can deliver services in various community-based medical practices without losing employment benefits as they move between employers.
  • $10.7 million for primary care placements. We will increase the number of nurses in primary care, by funding an extra 6,000 clinical placements over 4 years. Funding will also support 500 nurses to return to the workforce, and we’ll expand the availability of courses for nurses to transition to primary care practice.
  • $46.8 million to fund Medicare rebates for care provided by nurse practitioners. This rebate will increase by 30%. Nurse practitioners and participating midwives will also be enabled to prescribe PBS medicines and services under Medicare. This will make care more accessible and affordable for Australians, particularly in rural and regional areas.
  • $1.2 billion for community pharmacies. Pharmacists will be able to administer National Immunisation Program vaccines at no cost to patients. ($114.1m). 50,000 Australians who need treatment for opioid dependency will have funded support to access the treatment they need at their local pharmacy a cost they can afford ($377.3m). Increased funding will allow patients continued access to medication management and review programs and incentives for eligible community pharmacies operating in regional, rural and remote locations will be doubled ($734.4m).
  • $586.9 million for improved mental health. This budget extends critical services, addresses urgent gaps and workforce shortages – laying the groundwork for future reform. Including:
    • 500 additional postgraduate psychology places
    • 500 one-year internships for provisional psychologists
    • 2,000 supervisor training sessions
    • upskilling the broader health workforce to better recognise and respond to mental health issues
    • expanded supports for workplaces, children and young people, people with eating disorders, those bereaved by a suicide loss and individuals and communities impacted by natural disasters
    • expanded services for more than 18,000 people with severe mental illness who are not in the NDIS and need psychosocial support
    • boosting mental health support for First Nations people in the lead up to, during and following the Voice referendum
    • further protection for vulnerable members of the community, including refugees and migrants who have experienced torture and trauma, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Vaping, tobacco control and stronger preventative health

The 2023–24 Budget funds strong actions to reduce smoking and vaping rates, particularly among young Australians.

  • $247.4 million to tackle smoking and vaping. A new anti-smoking and anti-vaping campaign will be rolled out, along with more information and support to help people quit.  The successful Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program will be extended and expanded to vaping. The Government is also proposing stronger regulation and enforcement of e-cigarettes, including new controls on their importation, contents and packaging.
  • $502.2 million for stronger preventative health. A new national lung cancer screening program targeting those most at risk is predicted to prevent more than 4,000 deaths in Australia. The Budget also builds the capacity and capability of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to better support cancer care needs and improve First Nations health outcomes.
  • $68.3 million for better drug and alcohol prevention and treatment. We are extending programs, including those providing screening and counselling, funding essential diagnostic services for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and providing further support for renal services, including dialysis in First Nations communities.

This Budget also provides funding to:

  • establish an interim Australian Centre for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Aged Care ($91.1m) and replenish the National Medical Stockpile
  • improve health outcomes for women, girls and gender diverse people ($40.6m), including continued support for breastfeeding and the breastmilk bank
  • continue the National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infection Strategies ($19.7m)
  • provide more Clinical Quality Registries ($40.0m), ensuring patients receive the best quality medical procedures and treatments, including those for dementia, cystic fibrosis, and pelvic floor disorders.

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