Our centrepiece investment to strengthen Medicare will address a decade of cuts and neglect in general practice and primary care, reaffirming this as the cornerstone of our health system and taking the pressure off overloaded hospitals.
A $2.9 billion package will drive an innovative revamp of Australia’s primary health care system. Medicare will be strengthened, reaffirming its integrity and intent as a cornerstone of the health system.
The Government will make it easier for Australians to see a doctor when they need it by establishing 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics that will help reduce the pressure on the hospital system. The Government will provide $235m from 2022-23 to commence the rollout, including $100m over 2 years from 2022-23 to co-develop and pilot innovative models with states and territories to improve care pathways and inform the urgent care program rollout. A new GP grants program will provide a much-needed boost to local GP practices and improve care ($229.7m).
To support the best outcomes for Australia newborns, the Government will ensure Australia’s Newborn Bloodspot Screening programs (NBS) world-leading status by increasing the number and consistency of conditions screened across the country ($39m).
Women’s health during and after pregnancy will be strengthened with updated pregnancy care clinical guidelines and new postnatal care guidelines ($5.9m). The Budget invests in a new national network of perinatal mental health and wellbeing centres ($26.2m) and families bereaved by stillbirth will get more support ($13.9m).
Recognising the ongoing and growing need for mental health and suicide prevention supports and services, the Government will fund a number of initiatives including an expansion of the headspace network ($23.5m).
National consultations will begin to explore the unique health issues and barriers to access care faced by LGBTIQ+ Australians ($1.3m).
The Government will make climate change a national health priority by establishing a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit and developing Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy ($3.4m).
The Government is making medicines cheaper for Australian households. For the first time in its 75-year history, the maximum cost of general scripts under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will fall. The maximum co-payment of $42.50 will drop to $30 ($787.1m) from 1 January 2023.
Strengthening First Nations health
The Albanese Government will improve the health of First Nations peoples and take immediate action to support our commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, by making real improvements in health outcomes ($314.5m).
We will deliver improved infrastructure, including new and expanded First Nations health clinics in locations with high and growing First Nations populations ($164.3m). The First Nations Health Workers Traineeship Program ($54.3m), led by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), will train up to 500 First Nations health workers.
The Budget provides funding to target chronic diseases disproportionally affecting First Nations people. The Government will increase funding to combat rheumatic heart disease in high-risk communities ($14.2m). Renal services will be improved with funding ($45 million) for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in up to 30 sites.
The Government will build a dedicated Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence in New South Wales to provide culturally safe care and wrap-around support services for First Nations families ($22.5m). We know this is essential to improve long term health and development outcomes for First Nations peoples.
Rebuilding our healthcare workforce
This Budget will address workforce shortages particularly beyond our capital cities, making new investments in preventive health and improving mental health support.
The $185.3 million Rural Workforce package will attract, support and retain more doctors and allied health professionals into regional and rural communities, including new funding for the successful Innovative Models of Care program ($24.7m).
Incentive payments of up to $10,500 will be available to GPs and rural generalists with advanced clinical skills to practice in rural and remote communities ($74.1m). More health workers will be eligible for salary support through the Workforce Incentive Program ($29.4m).
There is $5.6 million to expand the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program to more than 1,000 placements in rural Australia per year by 2026. Rural health in Northern Queensland will get a boost, with 20 new Commonwealth-funded medical training places at the James Cook University ($13.2m).
Quotes attributable to Mark Butler, Minister for Health and Aged Care:
“The Albanese Government will strengthen Medicare and put the health of Australians first.”
“The Albanese Government is addressing cost of living pressures that affect Australians every day, helping them afford essential health care and cutting the cost of medicines.”
“With this Budget, we start to repair Medicare and grow our health workforce after a decade of Coalition cuts and neglect.”