Higher spending on healthcare in the 2019/20 fiscal year federal budget, announced by Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, will allow the country's healthcare market to experience “robust growth”, according to analysis published by Fitch Solutions.

The government’s plans call for an increase in healthcare spending over the coming years to AUD89.5 billion ($63.7 billion US) in FY2022/23, up from AUD81.8 billion ($58.2 billion USD) in FY2019/20.

Major areas of healthcare spending include strengthening Australia’s universal healthcare system Medicare by providing better access to treatment and screening services.

Another target is the Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme (PBS), which is aimed at improving the affordability of medicine, providing long-term funding certainty for medical research, and funding to deliver services for people living with mental illness.

The government created an AUD5bn ($3.5 billion USD) Medical Research Future Fund Ten Year Investment Plan, designed to help improve patient care and increase access to clinical trials.

The investment plan will also support Australia’s research talent and harness discoveries and innovation to deliver improved health outcomes for all Australians.

The report pointed out funds are being provided to reduce the cost of services for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), more services for people living with mental illness, including funding for youth mental health and suicide prevention.

The centrepiece of spending in aged care component of the budget is an additional 10,000 home care packages to help older people remain at home rather than enter aged care facilities.

In addition, elderly care will receive record funding, with more than a 50 percent increase since FY2013/14, all aimed at improving the safety and quality standards across the aged care industry.

“With an expansion of access to healthcare services, the Australian government will continue to promote the consumption of lower-value generic medicines in place of patented medicines as a means to reduce the pharmaceutical expenditure, creating challenges for multinational drugmakers,” the report noted.

The study also noted the rationalisation of pharmaceutical spending would continue to be a central theme in the Australian market, which in turn could have “significant ramifications” for the listing of high-value novel pharmaceuticals on the PBS.

Meanwhile, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has opened an online consultation for all Australians to have a say on the development of a more modern, digitally connected health system.

The online consultation, part of a nationwide series of discussions used to co-design the National Health Interoperability Roadmap, allows clinicians, healthcare organisations, consumers and the technology sector to converse about standards and priorities required for an interoperable health system.

 

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