Following on from our last post about how the 2017-18 federal budget affects Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, here’s a look at some other significant impacts this budget will have on Australia’s health system.
The Government will add new medicines to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including medicines to help patients with chronic heart failure and schizophrenia.
The deal with Medicines Australia means that out-of-pocket expenses for certain medicines will drop significantly.
The Government has taken a tough stance in support of vaccinations. It plans to withhold Government payments to parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
By withholding money from the Family Tax Benefit Part A, parents who don’t vaccinate their children will lose about $28 per child per fortnight.
For a family with two children, this amounts to more than $1400 per year. Budget figures show the Government expects to withhold about $66 million in payments to anti-vaxxers.
It’s going to become more expensive to buy roll-your-own tobacco and cigars.
These products are currently subject to a different tax rate to regular cigarettes, but the Government plans to change this to bring it in line with cigarettes.
The change will be phased in over the next four years.
Don’t forget, if you need help quitting, you can talk to your GP. They’re there to help.
There will be a $4.1 million extension of the Supporting Living Organ Donors Program, which reimburses living organ donors for leave or out-of-pocket expenses associated with their donation.
It is hoped this will encourage more people to donate, thereby reducing waiting lists for patients who need organs.
My Health Record
The Government will invest $374.2 million in My Health Record, which will provide every Australian with an online record so they can access their own medical history, including past tests and vaccinations.
You can opt out of the service if you wish.
The Government plans to boost spending on mental health support, treatment and research by $170 million.
This includes $80 million – contingent on matched commitments from the states and territories – to maintain services for people with mental illness who do not qualify for assistance through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
There’s also $9.1 million to help people in rural and remote areas access psychologists through a new telehealth initiative and $11.1 million to prevent suicide in specific hotspots through crisis help signage and infrastructure such as barriers.
Total hospital funding from the Commonwealth to states and territories (who actually manage public hospitals) will increase from $18.5 billion in the current year to $22.7 billion in 2020-21.