Insight

Government announces $2.4b health package for COVID-19

Julie Smith Julie Smith

The current COVID-19 health issue is creating challenges for the healthcare sector to balance the needs of the affected patients, whilst protecting those patients most at risk as well as their broader team.

In recognition, the Federal Government announced a $2.4b health package on 11 March 2020 to help combat COVID-19. This is separate to the $10b stimulus package to be announced on 12 March 2020.

You can read the full details of the package here.

Some highlights:

Primary care

  • $100 million will fund a new Medicare service for people in home isolation or quarantine as a result of coronavirus, to receive health consultations via the phone or video such as FaceTime or Skype. 
  • The telehealth service will help contain the spread of the virus and it will be bulk-billed at no cost to patients and will be available from Friday 13 March
  • $25 million to fund home medicines services which will enable patients to have their PBS prescriptions filled online or remotely, and have the medicines delivered to their home.
  • Fast track the rollout of electronic prescribing across Australia with funding of $5 million.
  • The national triage phone line will, therefore, be expanded with an additional $50.7 million in funding, operating 24/7 to provide advice to patients.
  • $206.7 million for up to 100 dedicated respiratory clinics. 

Aged care

  • $101.2 million to educate and train aged care workers in infection control, and enable aged care providers to hire extra nurses and aged care workers for both residential and home care.
  • Additional aged care staff will be available for deployment to facilities as needed, where an urgent health response is required and to provide extra support for staff and training.
  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will receive additional funding to work with providers on improving infection control.

Research

  • $30 million from the Medical Research Future Fund for vaccine, anti-viral and respiratory medicine research.

National Support for Ongoing Response

  • Funding of $1.1 billion to ensure patients and critical health care staff have to face masks, and other protective equipment such as surgical gowns, goggles and hand sanitiser for health professionals.
  • $30 million in infection control training and programs for health and aged care workers.

Communication

  • $30 million will deliver a new national communications campaign to provide people with practical advice on how they can play their part in containing the virus and staying healthy.
  • The information will be based on the most up to date medical advice and will be targeted at the entire community as well as high-risk groups and in up to 20 languages.

The Coronavirus COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and the advice to businesses on how to respond is constantly being updated . 

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