Our Plan

Issue 12

Better Health Care

The Liberal and Nationals Government is guaranteeing essential services Australians rely on. We are increasing funding for hospitals, medicines and Medicare.

RECORD HOSPITAL INVESTMENT

Federal funding for public hospital services under the Liberal and Nationals Government has increased from $13.3 billion in 2013-14 to $23.4 billion in 2020-21 (a 76% increase).

Under our new five hospital agreement, funding is increasing by $30.1 billion from 2020-21 to 2024-25. This is an increase of 30% (from $100 billion to $130.1 billion).

This means more hospital services, more doctors and more nurses.

RECORD BULK BILLING

More Australians are now seeing their doctor without having to pay.

The GP bulk billing rate (at March 2018) is 86.1% - up from 82.1% in Labor’s last year in government.

Over 133 million free GP services were delivered last year – 27.3 million more than in Labor’s last year.

MEDICARE GUARANTEE

The Liberal and Nationals Government is guaranteeing Medicare.

Our Medicare Guarantee Act guarantees Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme with legislation. The new Medicare Guarantee Fund ensures their ongoing funding.

Proceeds from the Medicare levy (except for amounts set aside to fund the NDIS) will now be paid into the Fund and topped up with a portion of income tax revenue. This ensures we meet the combined cost of the Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Medicare is being extended to cover 3D mammography for breast cancer, dialysis in remote areas and improved diagnosis for asthma.

NEW MEDICINES

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is one of the four pillars of our health system, along with Medicare, Private Health Insurance and universal access to public hospitals.

The PBS needs a responsible government managing a strong economy, to pay for this.

Since coming into government, the Liberal and Nationals Government has listed over 1,900 medicines worth almost $10.5 billion. We are listing all medicines recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

This is in stark contrast to Labor. In 2011, Labor announced the unprecedented deferral of seven medicines, saying: “the listing of some medicines would be deferred until fiscal circumstances permit”. (2011-12 Portfolio Budget Statement)

New medicines listed by the Liberal and Nationals Government will assist people suffering from cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, spinal muscular atrophy and severe asthma.

Some of these cost thousands of dollars, but are now available for $6.40 (concessional) or $39.50 (general patients) per script. For example, we are helping:

  • 3,150 women with breast cancer by subsidising Kisquali. Without PBS subsidy, this would cost around $72,000 per year.
  • 4,000 Australians with chronic pain from spinal arthritis by subsidising Simponi. Without subsidy, this would cost over $15,000 a year.
  • 1,000 Australians with a type of head and neck cancer by subsidising Opdivo. Without subsidy, it would cost around $50,000 a year.
  • 850 Australians with lung cancer by subsidising Keytruda. Without subsidy, this would cost around $188,000 a year.
  • 220 Australians with a type of lymphoma cancer by subsidising Imbruvica. Without subsidy, this would cost around $134,000 a year.
  • 1,500 Australian chemotherapy patients by subsidising Neulasta. Without subsidy, this would cost over $4,500 per course.
  • 1,125 patients with rare types of leukaemia by subsidising Pegasys. Without subsidy, this would cost more than $18,000 a year.
  • 6,000 Australians with an inherited high cholesterol condition by subsidising Repatha. Without subsidy, this would cost around $8,000 per year.

HELPING TO END TRANSMISSION OF HIV

This Government has taken a critical step in helping to end the transmission of HIV.

People at medium to high risk of HIV infection now have access to PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) on the PBS.

This means up to 32,000 patients each year will pay a maximum of $39.50 per script ($6.40 for concessional patients). Without subsidy, patients would pay $2,496 per year for PrEP.

BETTER ACCESS TO MRI SCANS

More than 400,000 Australians will now be able to access lifesaving scans for cancer, stroke, heart and other medical conditions with a $175 million investment in 30 new MRIs.

The first 10 locations will be: Mount Druitt Hospital (NSW); Northern Beaches Hospital (NSW); Sale Hospital (VIC); Monash Children’s Hospital (VIC); Pindara Private Hospital (QLD); Toowoomba Hospital (QLD); St John of Midland Hospital (WA); Kalgoorlie Health Campus (WA); Mount Barker Hospital (SA); Royal Darwin Hospital (NT).

SIMPLER, MORE AFFORDABLE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE

This year, private health premiums increased by 3.95%. This was the lowest premium rise in 17 years and lower than any year under the previous Labor Government.

For the 13 million Australians who rely on private health insurance, we have taken steps to make it more affordable and easier to understand. This includes:

  • Encouraging young Australians to take it up, by allowing private insurers to discount hospital insurance premiums for 18 to 29 year olds by up to 10%.
  • Better cover for mental health, by allowing people with hospital insurance that doesn’t offer full cover for mental health, to upgrade without a waiting period.
  • Enabling insurers to offer travel and accommodation benefits for treatment for people in regional and rural areas.
  • Helping Australians easily understand what they’re getting – by requiring insurers to categorise products as: gold; silver; bronze; basic. We’re also requiring insurers to use standard definitions to make it clear what’s covered and what isn’t.

We are completely committed to maintaining the private health insurance rebate. This rebate is relied upon by millions of Australians and takes pressure off the public system.

In April 2018, Bill Shorten twice refused to rule out cutting the private health insurance rebate. Labor can’t be trusted to keep it.

Labor would also remove the rebate on some policies, forcing many Australian families onto higher cost products, raising premiums by 16%.

MEDICAL RESEARCH

Investment in medical research is critical for providing new treatments and improving the quality of life for Australians.

The Liberal and Nationals Government established the Medical Research Future Fund to provide long term, sustainable funding for research.

This Fund is on track to reach $20 billion by 2021. It is one of the biggest medical research funds in the world.

Over the next four years, the Government is providing $6 billion in research funding.

New investments include: fast tracking access to clinical trials for children suffering from brain cancer; medical research to reduce premature births; and research into medical devices to help Australians suffering from crippling back pain.

More than 200,000 Australians will get better treatment tailored to their needs, through the Australian Genomics Health Futures Mission. This includes a pre-conception screening trial for rare birth disorders including Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Fragile X.

MENTAL HEALTH

To help the one in five Australians who experience mental health problems each year, the Government is increasing mental health funding to around $4.7 billion this year.

New funding has been provided for: community mental health; mental health research; assistance to prevent suicide at hotspot locations; Telehealth access for psychological services in regional areas; and support for current and former Defence Force personnel.

We recently launched the comprehensive Head to Health website that combines help from 26 mental health providers (including Headspace, Beyond Blue and Mind Frame) to improve access to the right help for Australians who need it.

We have increased funding to Lifeline and the 107 Headspace centres across Australia.

IMMUNISATION – NO JAB, NO PAY

Our No Jab, No Pay policy means parents must immunise their children (unless there is a valid medical exemption) to receive their full child care and family payments.

This policy is designed to protect children and the community from preventable diseases. 210,000 extra children were vaccinated in its first year.

The immunisation rate is now at 94.62% - the highest on record.

IMMUNISATION – HPV VIRUS PROTECTION

All 12 and 13-year-old girls and boys now have free access to the Gardasil 9 Vaccine, to protect them from the HPV virus.

This will protect Australians from cervical and other cancers and save lives.

IMMUNISATION – WHOOPING COUGH

The Government will provide the whooping cough vaccine to every pregnant woman in the country, protecting babies and mothers from this life-threatening disease.

DRUG TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

To tackle the scourge of Ice and other drugs, the Government has committed more than $685 million over four years to reduce the impact of drug and alcohol misuse.

This includes funding for: Primary Health Networks for locally based treatment; 260 new services for Indigenous communities; funding the Alcohol and Drug Foundation for 220 Local
Drug Action Teams; new Medicare funding for Addiction Medical Specialists; and funding for research into new treatment options and training.

INFANT AND MATERNAL HEALTH

To give children the best possible start in life, we are investing in infant health for the first 2,000 days of a child’s life.

This includes parents getting a simple guide to staying healthy during pregnancy.

A national digital baby book is replacing state based hard copy books, to help parents keep track of their babies’ health from birth.

We are subsidising the cost of insulin pumps for financially disadvantaged children with type 1 diabetes.

A new program will help GPs learn more about endometriosis, to help them diagnose and treat this condition that can lead to infertility in women.

MYHEALTH RECORDS

MyHealth records – a secure, online summary of your health information – help to improve care, reduce errors, avoid hospitalisations and reduce duplication.

It means that when care needs to be given, sometimes in an emergency, medical professionals can know histories, tests you’ve had and information about allergies, medicines and immunisations. In the words of the AMA President, it “can save lives”.

Patients have complete control over their information and can opt out, or cancel their MyHealth record, at any time.

Information current as at January 2019