Federal Budget 2022–23 health highlights

Wednesday, 26 October, 2022

Federal Budget 2022–23 health highlights

The Albanese government has delivered its first budget, with $104.1bn overall spending committed to health and $30.6 billion on aged care.

A $2.9 billion package will drive a revamp of Australia’s primary healthcare system. “Medicare will be strengthened, reaffirming its integrity and intent as a cornerstone of the health system,” said Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, in a statement.

The government will set up 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics with an aim to reduce the pressure on the hospital system.

“A $235m funding from 2022–23 will support the commencement of 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).”

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said the federal government’s investment of $980 million for general practice in the budget is a welcome follow-through on its election commitments, but warned that with the health system under so much pressure, the May 2023 Budget must put health front and centre.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said, “The government has set aside $750 million for its Strengthening Medicare Fund to support the recommendations of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, which are due by the end of this year. We are pleased to see that the government is planning to move quickly to roll out $229.7 million in GP infrastructure grants of up to $50,000 each, which will support general practices to enhance digital capability, invest in infection control and meet accreditation standards.”

The AMA also welcomed the government’s $143.3 million commitment to support access to health care in rural and regional areas.

Other key health-related highlights from the Budget include:

  • A $39m funding to increase the number and consistency of conditions screened as a part of the Newborn Bloodspot Screening programs (NBS). A $5.9 million funding to strengthen women’s health during and after pregnancy will be strengthened with updated pregnancy care clinical guidelines and new postnatal care guidelines. Investment 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).
  • Funding for a number of mental health and suicide prevention 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).
  • Establishment of a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit and developing Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy with a funding of $3.4m.
  • A $314.5m funding to help 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.
  • Funding to target chronic diseases disproportionally affecting First Nations people. The funding to combat rheumatic heart disease in high-risk communities will increase to $14.2m. Renal services will be improved with funding of $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 wraparound 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.
  • Cheaper medicines 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.
  • Funding to address workforce shortages particularly beyond capital cities, with 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 practise 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 1000 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).

Image credit: iStockphoto.com/erdikocak

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