Budget breakdown: a no frills summary of the Medicare changes

Healthed

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Healthed

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The Australian Government has committed $101 billion in health spending in the federal budget. The biggest proportion ($5.7 billion) will go to strengthening Medicare.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the most important changes and what they’ll mean for you:

  • Tripling the bulk-billing incentiveThe government announced $3.5 billion over five years, the largest increase in Medicare history. From 1 November the rebate for GPs in metropolitan areas who bulkbill eligible patients will increase to $20.65 for a standard consultation. The rebate for GPs working in remote areas will be $39.65. The incentive targets children under 16, pensioners and concession card holders.
  • A new Medicare item ‘Level E’ for consultations lasting more than 60-minutes – A rebate of $183.66 will be introduced in November.
  • A minimum consultation time of 6 minutes will be introduced for Level B items – Additionally, beginning next year, the “streamlining and modernising Chronic Disease Management planning items and improving associated regulations” will save the government nearly $302 million over three years.
  • 60-day prescribing for 320 common PBS medicines – This change is projected to save $1.2 billion over five years by allowing patients to buy two-months supply of selected medicines for the cost of a single prescription.
  • Reinstating Medicare rebates for longer telehealth consultations
  • 30% increase to Medicare rebates for care provided by nurse practitioners – NPs and participating midwives will also be able to prescribe PBS medicines and services.
  • An extra 6,000 primary care clinical placements for nurses over four years – along with support for 500 nurses to return to the workforce.
  • Commitment to index the Medicare rebate
  • Introduction of MyMedicare – a voluntary scheme where patients can enrol with registered general practices to improve continuity of care and access to telehealth, along with funding “to provide comprehensive care” for frequent hospital users and those in residential aged care
  • Upgrading and modernising My Health Record ($952 million)
  • Tackling smoking and vaping through stronger regulations, a new public health campaign and more support to help people quit ($247 million)
  • Funding for Primary Health Networks to extend after hours programs ($143.9 million)

The budget also includes:

  • $586.9 million for improved mental health
  • $818.5 million for First Nations health
  • $872.2 million over five years to improve aged care
  • Support for national lung cancer screening program targeting those at high risk
  • Funding to extend programs for drug and alcohol prevention and treatment
  • Better access to wound care for eligible patients with a chronic wound and diabetes
  • The addition of the shingles vaccine Shingrix to the National Immunisation program ($446.7m)
  • $29.8 million to “reduce Medicare fraud – including a taskforce”.

 

 

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