Budget Delivers Boost for Health Services in Cowper

11 May 17

Key Points:
• The Budget guarantees future funding for Medicare
• Medicare patient rebates to be progressively increased
• More medicines will be made available, at cheaper prices
• Mental health services will be boosted

Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker says the 2017 Budget secures the future of the healthcare services Australians need, with guaranteed funding for Medicare, improved access to medicines, increased patient rebates, and a boost to mental health programs.

In total, the Budget commits more than $92 billion to healthcare services.

“All Australians can be assured Medicare is not only here to stay, but will be strengthened into the future,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“The Government will establish a Medicare Guarantee Fund from 1 July 2017 to secure the ongoing funding of the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, guaranteeing Australians’ access to these services and affordable medicines into the future.

“Labor’s disgraceful “Medi-scare” campaign caused great distress for many older residents in Cowper. They can have confidence that funding for Medicare will be guaranteed by legislation.

“The Budget also includes a $2.4 billion additional investment in Medicare over the next four years.

“Partnerships have been struck with the nation’s GPs, specialists, pharmacists and the medicines sector. These are key to the Turnbull Government’s initiatives that will support the long-term future of Australia’s health system.

“As part of our compacts with Australia’s GPs and specialists, the 2017-18 Budget restores indexation of the Medicare rebate at a cost of $1 billion, starting with GP bulk-billing incentives from 1 July 2017. More than 90% of GP visits in Cowper were bulk billed last year. This funding increase will ensure that Cowper residents have affordable access to their GP.

“Indexation of standard GP and specialist consultations will resume on 1 July 2018, and specialist procedures and allied health from 1 July 2019.

“As part of a $957 million package, the Government will retain the bulk-billing incentives for Pathology and Diagnostic Imaging, including blood tests, x-rays, scans and pap smears. We will also introduce indexation for targeted diagnostic imaging services including mammography, fluoroscopy, CT scans and interventional procedures, from 1 July 2020 – for the first time since 2004.

“The 2017 Budget will also ensure that more Australians have access to the medicines they need. The Government has negotiated landmark agreements with Medicines Australia, the Pharmacy Guild and Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) to make medicines more affordable and accessible.

“For example, the 2017–18 Budget includes $514.6 million to list Sacubitril with Valsartan (Entresto®) on the PBS for patients with chronic heart failure. This will benefit more than 60,000 Australians every year who currently pay around $2,000 per year for this medicine. Concession patients will now only pay around $6.30 per script and non-concession patients will pay $38.80.

“Our careful management of PBS spending means that we are able to list new, effective medicines on the PBS when they become available.

“The Agreement with the Pharmacy Guild will deliver medicines reform and an $825 million investment to strengthen patient outcomes and community pharmacy. Australians will now have access to a wider range of services from their community pharmacy, including home visits to eligible patients to help them manage their medications.

“The Pharmacy Guild, Medicines Australia and GBMA agreements include one-off price reductions for certain medicines that have been on the PBS for 10 and 15 years, ongoing reductions in more PBS drug prices and support for the uptake of lower-cost generic and biosimilar medicines, in return for reinvestment in future drug listings.

“I am also very pleased to see additional health services for Veterans funded through the Budget, including extra mental health support for anyone who has served in the ADF in a full-time capacity.

“The Budget also includes $115 million for mental health support, treatment, and research, including $9.1 million for tele-health services for regional areas.

“The 2017 Federal Budget delivers the accessible, affordable health services that are so important for Cowper residents.”

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