There were four big spending commitments on health in the federal budget: aged care, Medicare reform, pharmaceuticals, and Aboriginal health.
The budget announced additional annual health and aged care spending of more than $2.8 billion when initiatives are fully implemented by 2025–26. The bulk of this is for policy initiatives flagged in the election campaign.
Labor promised several health reform initiatives before the election. One of these – the development of urgent care clinics – is now on track to start in 2022–23, at a cost of $37 million per year.
The budget allocated $230 million in a full year to reduce the mandatory Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment, from the current level of $42.50 per prescription for general beneficiaries to $30.
There was an additional investment of $95 million in a full year to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.
Professor Stephen Duckett from the School of Population and global Health at Melbourne University said this commitment to Indigenous health “appears well designed and includes improved infrastructure, expanded training and new health clinics”.
Professor Duckett said the budget adopted a broader view of health and wellbeing than seen in previous budgets.
“The budget signals the first steps towards adopting a new health and wellbeing framework for measuring societal progress, incorporating broader aspects of everyday life into budget reporting,” he wrote in The Conversation.