The 2013 Budget papers suggest that the Health sector in
particular is going to face significant growth and require
significantly increasing expenditure going forward. Several
mentions are made of Australia's ageing population, the
resulting increase in demand for healthcare services and the
increasing cost of new technology. Further, one might expect that a
significant portion of the expenditure allocated to the National
Disability Insurance Scheme, now known as DisabilityCare Australia,
will flow into the broader health sector as funding for enhanced
The Budget also records a further significant increase in the
take up of private health insurance, suggesting that Australians
are concerned both about the cost and availability of quality
Multiple responses attempt to address the stresses in the health
sector, including incentives for doctors to move to rural areas,
further expansion of the care in the home program, and $660 million
in funding over five years to improve incentives for aged care
providers to invest in residential care facilities.
From the pharmaceutical sector perspective, all eyes are
focussed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Here the
Budget recognises the potential ongoing dividends from the price
disclosure regime, and also allocates funding of $691 million over
five years for the inclusion of new medicines in the PBS, including
ground-breaking drugs for the treatment of chronic nerve pain,
chronic hepatitis C and Parkinson's disease.
However, the Budget papers also state that "PBS estimates
do not include the potential listing of new drugs following
recommendations by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory
Committee". This may suggest that no allowance has been made
for drugs not yet recommended for listing by that Committee.
More than $500 million has also been allocated to a program of
Innovation Precincts. Given the focus of this program on innovation
and promoting collaboration between business and research
institutions, one might expect that this announcement will create
some considerable opportunities – particularly for the
Other matters of interest to the health sector in the Budget
$226 million to improve cancer prevention, detection, treatment
and research, and provide better patient care and support.
$17 million in 2013-14 to replenish items within the National
Medical Stockpile, the strategic reserve of medicines and medical
equipment for health emergencies or disasters.
Continued funding of the staged implementation of the Australia
New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency.
$19.6 million over two years for the Medical Services Advisory
Committee (MSAC) to review the quality, safety and cost
effectiveness of existing items listed on the Medicare Benefits
Schedule, and examine the evidence for proposed new medical
technologies and procedures.
An unpublished sum to enable the Department of Health and
Ageing to mitigate and respond to the risk of legal challenges in
relation to the PBS. This is interestingly associated with a
reference to "The ongoing implementation of the
Government's pricing policies such as price disclosure,
reference pricing and post market reviews."
Given the obviously fiscally constrained position of the
Government, the Budget presents a reasonable combination of
settings and programs for both the Pharmaceutical and Life Science
sector and the Health sector.
For the longer term, the Budget continues to recognise the value
of innovation, and the need to support it through education,
infrastructure and a range of incentives, such as the R&D
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