The Australian Federal Budget in Health

The 2020-21 Federal Budget was recently announced by the Morrison Government which predicted a $213.7 billion deficit. Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, described the deficit to be a “monumental task” for Australia.

Importantly, the medical and health sector related budget items announced are as follows:

  • $6 billion further funding of Medicare which will include $2.4 billion investment in telehealth.
  • Continuation of Medicare-subsidised telehealth for medical professionals, medical service providers and Medicare-subsidised pathology until 31 March 2021.
  • Options to be developed for the perpetual implementation of telehealth, even after the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, $18.6 million funding has been allocated under the budget to make changes in the system enabling adoption of future reforms.
  • $5.7 billion allocated for mental health out of which $110.8 million will be allotted over the next two years to multiply psychological services available under the Better Access Initiative.
  • $630.4 million allocated for the expansion of the Headspace network.
  • Further $47.3 million funding allocated to Victoria for mental health and crisis support to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $375.5 million to be given over the next four years in relation to new and changed PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) listings for Apomine, Ventolin, Calquence, Keytruda and other medicines that treat hypertension.
  • Additional funding of $1.1 billion to be allotted this year for the partnership agreement ensuring the continuation of funding private hospitals for supplementing public hospital capacity and for funding of state hospitals.
  • $550 million allocated for Rural Health Strategy which will include funding for rural workforce shortages.
  • $798.8 million has been given in additional NDIS funding, to be allocated over the next four years.
  • Grant by the Australian Taxation Office given to most businesses to write off everything spent on eligible (health and medical) equipment in the next two years.
  • Businesses can offset losses suffered up to June 2022 against profits made in the past two years, from the 2018-19 financial year.

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