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More health measures in the Budget

The following is extracted from the Government’s Budget overview document

Budget 2017-18 Guaranteeing the essentials for Australians

 A healthy Australia

Providing affordable medicines and investing in mental health and public hospitals. Continuing to provide access to new medicines. Australians will continue to have affordable access to new medicines, with the Government meeting its commitment to list cost-effective medicines on the PBS. In this Budget, $1.2 billion will be provided for new and amended listings on the PBS, including more than $510 million for Sacubitril with valsartan (Entresto®).

Since 2013, the Government has listed more than 1400 new or amended medicines on the PBS averaging 32 new and amended listings a month. These new listings include breakthrough medicines to treat breast cancer, Hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis and severe asthma. Investing in mental health More than $115 million will be invested in mental health, including $80 million for psychosocial services, $9.1 million in funding for rural telehealth psychological services, $15.0 million for priority mental health research and $11.1 million to address suicide hotspots. The Government is providing further mental health support for veterans and their families, by investing $9.8 million to fund pilot programs to improve mental health services and support suicide prevention efforts for veterans.

The Government will also provide $33.5 million to ensure anyone who has served a single day in the fulltime Australian Defence Force can seek treatment for mental health conditions and $8.5 million to expand access to counselling services for veterans’ families. Funding public hospitals Record levels of financial assistance will be provided to State Governments to deliver the public hospital services Australians need. Commonwealth payments to the States for public hospitals continue to grow strongly, from $13.8 billion in 2013-14 to an estimated $22.7 billion in 2020-21. On current Budget forecasts, an additional $7.7 billion will be provided to the States and Territories from 2016-17 to 2020-21 giving effect to the Heads of Agreement on public hospital funding signed by COAG on 1 April 2016. Medical Research In this Budget the Government has committed new funding for medical research, $65.9 million will be provided from the Medical Research Future Fund to support preventative health research, clinical trials and breakthrough research investments. In addition, $5.8 million will be provided for research into childhood cancer.

Full and sustainable funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Commonwealth will fully fund its contribution to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, giving Australians with permanent and significant disability, and their families and carers, certainty that this vital service will be there for them into the future. To help fund the scheme, the Government is asking Australians to contribute, with the Medicare levy to be increased by half a percentage point from 2 to 2.5 per cent of taxable income. This means that one-fifth of the revenue raised by the Medicare levy, along with any underspends within the NDIS, will be directed to the NDIS Savings Fund. The Government’s decision to increase the Medicare levy from 1 July 2019 reflects the fact that Australians have a role to play, in accordance with their capacity, to ensure this important program is secure for current and future generations. The NDIS is on track to be fully rolled out from 2020. States and Territories will be expected to maintain their commitment and contribution to the NDIS and continue to support mainstream services for people with disability. More than $200 million will be provided to establish an independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to oversee the delivery of quality and safe services for all participants of the NDIS. The Commission will support NDIS participants to exercise choice and control, ensure appropriate safeguards are in place, and establish expectations for providers and their staff to deliver quality supports. The Commission will perform three core functions: regulation and registration of providers; complaints handling; and reviewing and reporting on restrictive practices.

The Government will also invest $33 million over three years to help existing service providers in the disability and aged care sectors grow their workforce. This package will deliver jobs for Australians in rural, regional and outer suburban areas that require strong workforce growth as a result of the NDIS roll out. The scheme’s cost sustainability is being examined in the Productivity Commission’s review of NDIS costs. Due to be released in September 2017, it will examine factors affecting costs and will help inform the final design of the full scheme.