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Minister Wyatt: Indigenous health programs boost in the Federal Budget
The Turnbull Government has continued its commitment to provide better health services for Indigenous Australians with a funding boost in the Federal Budget.
The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, said today that Budget measures will improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Government is now investing $3.6 billion over four years from 2017-18 for the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program, representing an increase of $724 million compared to expenditure over the previous four years.
“Continued growth in the Program will improve access to culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care for Indigenous Australians, as well as address areas of critical need through targeted investments that are expected to accelerate progress in closing the gap in health disparity,” Minister Wyatt said.
“The growth in the Program has allowed us to develop innovative targeted initiatives. For example, an additional investment of approximately $6 million for the extension of the Reducing Rheumatic Heart Fever among Indigenous Children Budget measure will expand the Rheumatic Fever Strategy to include other environmental and health care measures to prevent the incidence of Acute Rheumatic Fever, and improve data and reporting systems.
“The majority of investment in Indigenous health continues to rely on mainstream health expenditure through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), hospitals and National Partnership Payments of $53 million (2015-16 to 2019-20).”
“Many of the other mainstream budget health measures will also impact on Indigenous Health,” Minister Wyatt said.
“In particular re-introducing indexation to MBS payments will provide increased Medicare funding to eligible providers including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs). The unfreezing of indexation will be a staged approach commencing in 1 July 2017 with GP bulk-bulling incentives.”
“I am particularly pleased that 46 of the 200 preferred sites for Health Care Homes are Aboriginal Medical Services, including ACCHSs, although the final number of participating sites will not be known until agreements are reached.”
Minister Wyatt said the Support for Community Pharmacies – Increasing Patient Access to Medication Management Services budget initiative allows pharmacists to offer services during patient home visits – or at an alternative preferred location for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients – to identify medication or compliance problems and to provide education on the correct use of medicines and monitoring devices.
“This measure also releases funding previously held in the Contingency Reserve to continue programs under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA), including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Programs.”
Other health initiatives that will impact on better health care for Indigenous people include:
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – Improving access
The Government is reducing the cost of medicines by $1.8 billion over five years to make medicines more affordable. Our careful management of PBS spending means that we are able to list new, effective medicines on the PBS when they become available. This includes new listing of ferrous fumerate and ferrous fumerate with folic acid on the PBS which are used to treat iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemias which are prevalent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Maintaining Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services Pharmaceutical Dispensing
Ensures continued remuneration for pharmacists supplying PBS medicines to individuals through the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.
“The Federal Budget gives us cause to pause and consider the many opportunities we have to accelerate progress in this space,” Minister Wyatt said.
Delivering Improved Mental Health Services
The Turnbull Government is building on its mental health reforms by delivering another boost of more than $170 million for mental health support, treatment and research that will directly benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This includes people living in rural and remote regions of Australia will now receive significantly improved access to psychologists, under a new $9.1 million telehealth initiative set to roll-out later this year.
Fighting childhood cancer
The Government is contributing $79 million to cancer research including $10.8 million to fight childhood cancer. This includes $1.4 million for pediatric brain cancer clinical trials and $4.4 million for Cancer Australia.
CanTeen will also receive $5 million to support clinical trials in adolescents and young adults as one of the first allocations from our landmark $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
Better support for children living with diabetes
The Government will provide $54.0 million over five years from 2016 17 to provide free access to continuous glucose monitoring devices for children and young adults under 21 years of age who face extra challenges managing their type 1 diabetes. Continuous glucose monitoring devices assist in managing type 1 diabetes by automatically checking an individual’s blood sugar levels and reducing the need for finger prick tests.
The Government will simplify and reduce patient contribution arrangements from 1 July 2017 for the Insulin Pump Program (the Program), which provides subsidised access to insulin pumps for children with type 1 diabetes. This will ensure children with type 1 diabetes will have more affordable access to insulin pumps.