What’s in the Budget for specialists?

Wednesday, 12 May 2021


While the federal budget focus was mostly on aged care and mental health there are also significant funding announcements in specialist areas such as telehealth, training programs, private health and clinical research

Here are the limbic’s highlights for the 2021 Federal Health Budget:

Medicare

$1.5 billion announced for ongoing implementation of  programs including MBS Schedule Review new and amended listings ($333.7 m) and diagnostic imaging reforms ($37 m)

PBS

$43 billion investment over 4 years, but no new listings announced other than treatments for migraine.

Telehealth

Support for COVID-related telehealth was extended for only six months until the end of 2021, as a temporary measure. However, the ‘existing relationship’ with a practitioner requirement for telehealth eligibility will be dropped for some services including drug and alcohol counselling.

Medical Research

The budget outlay for medical research comes to $6.7 billion over four years, principally through the MRFF and NHMRC.

Separately, $70 million is earmarked for just-opened program rounds including clinical trials under the rare cancer, rare diseases and unmet needs programs.

MyHealth Record

The budget allocates $302 million for the “next wave” of the My Health Record but does not explain where that money will be directed.

Medical training

Under rural workforce initiatives, $29.5 million will go establish an “innovative funding pool” for non-GP specialist training from January 2022.

Private Health Insurance

Reforms will include improving the PHI prosthesis list and, greater rigour to certification for hospital admissions

Screening programs

The budget allocates $125.9 million to improve cancer screening, with the government listing lung, breast and cervical cancers as priorities.  As announced earlier, the government will fund additional breast screen services  so that all women aged 40-74 will be eligible.  But it appears to offer no new money for ovarian cancer screening.

COVID-related measures

As well as continued funding for vaccine rollout, the budget sets aside contingency funding to establish onshore mRNA manufacturing capacity – although the amount is under wraps because the government will approach the market to negotiate costs.

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