Labor promises almost $1 billion more for Medicare ahead of election

Labor promises almost $1 billion more for Medicare ahead of election

May 13, 2022

Anthony Albanese is promising almost $1 billion in new Medicare funding if Labor wins next weekend’s federal election, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces support for 700,000 children to play sport.

“Australians trust their GPs. It’s a vital relationship in ensuring all Australians get the quality healthcare they deserve,” Albanese said ahead of Saturday’s announcement, which includes a plan for patients to get extra services if they enrol with a single GP practice.

Anthony Albanese is promising almost $1 billion to improve Medicare.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The Labor pledge is made up of $750 million over three years through a new Strengthening Medicare Fund, along with $220 million in grants of up to $50,000 for GPs to train staff, buy equipment, improve ventilation and upgrade IT telehealth systems.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said the Labor funding would “put general practice on a pathway to a more sustainable future” after the Coalition declined to fund its own 10-year primary health plan, including voluntary practice enrolment.

Under the new system, called MyGP, patients who enrol with a single practice could eventually be able to access extra services – such as wound dressings, physiotherapy and mental health support – on site and coordinated by their GP.

“The way health care is delivered in primary care is changing and funding arrangements need to be modernised to reflect this,” Khorshid said, saying voluntary practice enrolment would deliver “better and more accessible care.”

“For many patients who currently see multiple healthcare professionals, across multiple appointments, and in multiple locations, this could save them a lot of coordination, time, and money,” he said.

A Flinders University study into a government trial of the model last month found it did “not improve self-rated health”, but the AMA says the trial was poorly implemented.

Labor said the Strengthening Medicare Fund would be spent on the recommendations of a taskforce chaired by the new health minister and made up of peak medical bodies including the AMA and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, which lobbied for the funding.

Improving GP access and affordability, including after hours, would be priorities, with patient enrolment to enable “better management of complex and chronic conditions”, decrease pressure on hospitals and deliver care from a “multidisciplinary team” including nursing and allied health.

Morrison will on Saturday announce a $20 million plan to expand a sport program to high school students in year 9 and year 10, through 35 national sporting organisations, including Netball Australia, AFL, Cricket Australia, Hockey Australia and Surfing Australia.

“Getting more young people involved in sport helps keep our kids active, builds confidence and it provides a way for families to connect back to community sporting clubs as we bounce back from the pandemic,” the Prime Minister said.

“It also creates opportunities and connections to support those students who want to make their sporting dreams a reality.”

Sporting Schools, which provides free sport-based activities to students of all abilities and also helps identify promising young athletes, is currently only available up to year 8.

Expanding the program aims to address the decline in sporting participation, physical activity and social connectivity in older secondary students, especially girls.

Morrison will also announce $4.8 million worth of grants up to $5000 to help surf lifesaving clubs buy life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and rescue boards.

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