Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Budget Night

Here in Australia, it's Federal Budget night.  So I've been glued to the television, watching to see how the government's financial plan will affect lupies.

I'm not an economic analyst, and I don't have a crystal ball, so upfront let me say I don't know exactly how these things are going to affect us, but a few things in the Treasurer Wayne Swan's speech presenting the budget stood out to me as having a potential impact on us.

You can get the full details of the budget here.

The two big things for us, should be the establishment of DisabilityCare Australia, and the National Health Reform Agreement.

On the downside, a lot of health funding is being targeted especially at cancer research and care and treatment, so autoimmune diseases are the poor neighbours yet again. Hundreds of million of healthcare dollars will be specifically for cancers. (Mr Swan talked about his own experience with cancer. Maybe we need a senior politician to have their life threatened by lupus or another autoimmune disease.)

A potential downside for lupies who are still in the workforce, is that this budget will phase out the net medical expense tax offset (tax reductions for spending more than $2000 in the year on medical expenses.) At the same time, the point at which the Medicare Safety Net cuts in, increases from $1221.90 to $2000.

Relevant sections of Mr Swan's speech are included below:

DisabilityCare Australia
The Australian Government will provide $19.3 billion over seven years from 2012‑13 to roll out DisabilityCare Australia across the country. This brings this Government's total new investment in DisabilityCare Australia to $14.3 billion over the period.
This investment in DisabilityCare will ensure all Australians with significant and permanent disability get the support they need. This is compared to the current approach where limited funds are rationed and people who get funding often have to accept a one‑size‑fits all approach.
Rigorous assessments will be conducted to ensure funds are targeted where they are needed most.
Core principles
DisabilityCare Australia will look beyond immediate need, and will focus on what is required across a person's lifetime. At its core will be:
A Lifetime approach — as funding is long term and sustainable, people with disability will have peace of mind that the individualised support they receive will change as their needs change;
Choice and control — people choose how they get support and have control over when, where and how they receive it, including the option of managing their supports themselves;
Social and economic participation — overall life goals for participation will be a central focus of supports; and
Focus on early intervention —# the scheme will invest in people to maximise their independence.
Sustainable funding
From 1 July 2014 the Government will raise the Medicare levy by half a percentage point to provide a strong and enduring funding stream for DisabilityCare Australia.
This will raise $20.4 billion between 2014‑15 and 2018‑19, to be spent on DisabilityCare Australia. The States and Territories will also contribute to DisabilityCare Australia, and will be allocated $9.7 billion over ten years from the increase in Medicare levy revenue.
DisabilityCare Australia will be fully funded.

DisabilityCare Australia launch
DisabilityCare Australia will commence operations from July 2013 across four jurisdictions and from July 2014 in a further two jurisdictions.
Launch locations will be established in the Hunter region of New South Wales, the Barwon region of Victoria, in South Australia for young children and in Tasmania for young adults from July 2013, and in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory from July 2014.
National roll out
The Australian Government is committed to the full national roll out of DisabilityCare Australia in 2018‑19.
The Government will provide funding of $11.7 billion to DisabilityCare Australia in 2019‑20, the first year after full national rollout.
New South Wales was the first jurisdiction to commit to full scheme, followed by South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The roll out of DisabilityCare Australia in these jurisdictions will cover around 90 per cent of the total Australian population.
The Government will continue to work with Western Australia to achieve national coverage by the end of 2018‑19.

The Government has taken action to address the challenges facing our health care system including an ageing population and rising health care costs.
Access to new medicines
We are investing a further $691 million over five years in new medicines in the PBS, including ground-breaking drugs for the treatment of chronic nerve pain, chronic hepatitis C and Parkinson's disease.
The Government has realised savings from the price disclosure reforms to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) agreed with industry in 2010. This has increased capacity to fund new and innovative drugs.
Better healthcare
The Government is investing a further $2.2 billion in the Medicare Benefits Schedule across five years with a higher than expected number of Australians visiting doctors. In addition a further $33.8 million is being invested into the General Practice Rural Incentive program in 2013‑14 to encourage medical practitioners to move to regional and remote communities.
An additional $2.2 billion over four years will go to assisting individuals and families to meet the cost of private health insurance through the private health insurance rebate. A further 120,000 people have taken up private health insurance cover from July to December last year
In 2012, the Government announced funding of $4.1 billion to improve access to dental services and boost the dental workforce, including $2.7 billion for a Child Dental Benefits SchemeGrow up Smiling.
Historic national health reform
In 2011, the Government and all States and Territories signed the historic $16.4 billionNational Health Reform Agreement. These reforms are critical to preserving Medicare and universal healthcare in Australia.

Improving cancer care
In this Budget, the Government is investing a further $226 million to deliver world leading cancer care for Australians.
The Budget provides $18.5 million over four years to fund the new Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre, as well as support the two existing Research Centres.
The Budget delivers $42.1 million over four years in funding for bone marrow transplants and for the Youth Cancer Network program run by CanTeen, providing access to life-saving medical procedures and necessary support services for people living with cancer.
The Government will also invest $5.9 million over four years to improve the treatment and outcomes for people affected by lung cancer.
Recognising that smoking is a major cause of cancer, the Government has taken ground-breaking steps to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products. This Budget includes funding for the enforcement of plain packaging.
Early detection
The Government has also committed $92.2 million over four years to expand the target age range for the BreastScreen Australia Program and to continue funding the processing of Pap smears for early detection of cervical cancer.
Bowel cancer screening will also be funded with an additional $16.1 million over four years, which builds on previous investments in this area.
An additional $29.6 million in 2012‑13 and 2013‑14 will be provided to support the dispensing of chemotherapy medicines to ensure the supply of these drugs to patients.
Improvements in cancer care will also flow from additional funding for national cancer data collection which started in 2009‑10. These initiatives build on the $1.1 billion invested by the National Health and Medical Research Council in cancer research since 2007.

Reference: 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget http://www.budget.gov.au/2013-14/index.htm

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