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BUDGET 1999-2000 : Budget Paper No. 2 - Budget Measures : Health and Aged Care



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Health and Aged Care

National Illicit Drug Strategy - additional funding for drug treatment
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government wi ll provide additional funding for drug treatment services under the Government’s National Illicit Drug Strategy (NIDS) to establish new non-government organisation treatment services for illicit drug users and to allow the expansion of existing services. The funding is in addition to the $ 51 million provided in 1997-98 for treatment services under NIDS.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Tough on Drugs - Strengthening the Fight .

Further Information

This programme builds on the National Illicit Drug Strategy announced by the Prime Minister in 1997-98, providing additional funding for the expansion of drug treatment services.

The additional funding will be complemented by an expansio n of school-based drug education (to be implemented by the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs ) and by law enforcement initiatives, continuing the Government’s balanced and integrated approach to reducing the supply of, and demand for, illicit drugs and minimising the harm they cause.

See also the following related NIDS expense measures:

  • National Illicit Drug Strategy - early intervention and diversion under the Health and Aged Care portfolio;
  • Enhancement of the National School Drug Education Strategy under the Education, Training and Youth Affairs portfolio;
  • Tough on drugs - four mobile strike teams under the Attorney-General’s portfolio;
  • Tough on drugs - increased search capacity a nd purchase of x-ray technology to enhance capacity for drug detection at the nation's borders under the Attorney-General’s portfolio,

and the following related capital measures:

  • National Illicit Drug Strategy - early intervention and diversion under the Attorney-General’s portfolio;  and
  • Tough on drugs - increased search capacity and purchase of x-ray technology to enhance capacity for drug detection at the nation's borders under the Attorney-General’s portfolio.
Helping people with chronic disease manage their illness
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will promote education and support for people with chronic diseases to help themselves by assi sting them to gain a better understanding of their conditions and how to manage them. This measure will seed the development of community based, self-help groups for chronic disease sufferers, using skilled trainers to educate sufferers in proven self management techniques. The groups will complement and enhance professional care and rehabilitation.

The aim is to improve quality of life for those with chronic conditions which in turn reduces demand on the health care system and reduces the incidence of costly re-hospitalisation.

This measure forms part of a package of initiatives to enhance primary care in particular for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.

Further Information

More than three million Australians suffer from chronic, disabling conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma and emphysema. These conditions are on the inc rease in the community, due in part to the ageing of the population and to improvements in life saving treatments.

 

Preventing falls in older people
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

This measure to prevent falls among older people forms part of the Government’s package of initiatives to enhance primary care , in particular, for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community. The Government programme will provide funding for:

  • the development of appropriate interventions to reduce the incidence, severity and mortality associated with falls in both community and residential care settings;
  • piloting of programmes to minimise the risk of injury including promotion of the benefits of appropriate exercise levels in active older people, better methods of medication management, environmental modifications and the use of devices which prevent injury;
  • research into the areas of identification of risk factors, burden/cost of injuries and evidence on effectiveness and cost benefit analysis of interventions; and
  • development of workforce education in community, acute care and residential settings.
Hepatitis C education and prevention initiative
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide improved education, prevention and health maintenance initiatives for those currently infected and those at risk of becoming infected to lower the current rate of transmission of Hepatitis C in Australia.  Bui lding on proven strategies, research will be commissioned to inform the design of elements of the national response in key areas, including epidemiology, social and behavioural factors, and education and prevention programmes. This initiative will be managed by the National Centre for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Further Information

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Recent est imates indicate that over 200,000 Australians (just over 1 per cent of the total population) have already been infected with the Hepatitis C virus, with around 11,000 new infections occurring each year.

Population Health Evidence Base Advisory Mechanism
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will fund the establishment of a Population Health Evidence Base Advisory Mechanism to facilitate the adoption of more cost-effective health promotion and disease prevention strategies.

This measure will also provide a flexible funding mechanism to identify more effective ways of achieving improved population outcomes. A significant consideration will be the extent to which interventions will not only result in improvements to health outcomes, but will also be likely to achieve savings to Commonwealth expenses.

Funding of around $ 5 million from existing portfolio resources will be spent on the programme over the next four years.

Reforms to food hygiene and safety standards
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will implement a range of initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Australia’s food hygiene standards . This will include implementation of model umbrella legislation and evaluation of the safety of individual products. This measure is in response to community health and safety concerns.

New pathology partnership to strengthen quality
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government has entered a further three year agreement with pathologists for the period 1999-2000 to 2001-2002. The Government’s obje ctive is to contain growth in pathology under the Medicare Benefits arrangements, while addressing areas for reform within the industry and strengthening the quality use of pathology. This agreement builds on the success of the first agreement with pathologists, which delivered significant savings to the Government. Growth in expenses will be an average of 5 per cent per annum compared to an average of 6 per cent per annum under the previous agreement.

A quality use of pathology programme will be established to bring together requesting doctors and pathologists to develop and implement a range of initiatives to promote quality ordering, practice and use of pathology services.  To support the wider adoption of these initiatives, an incentives programme, including financial incentives, will be established.

Quality incentives for prescribing pharmaceuticals
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will pr ovide incentives for General Practitioners (GPs) prescribing pharmaceuticals to change their prescribing behaviour, both to improve the quality of patient care and to lead to better use of resources through the Quality Incentives for General Practice Programme .

The programme involves measuring the savings accruing from changes in prescribing practices, and allocating half of these savings to GPs. Three high cost/high growth drug groups (antibiotics, peptic ulcer drugs and cardiovascular drugs) which account for a rround $ 1.4 billion in expenses per annum have been identified as having the most potential for achieving improved prescribing practices.

Changes in practice will be driven by improved information provision, in conjunction with the financial incentives. This information will be based on ‘Quality Use of Medicines’ educational principles.

Further Information

Changes in prescribing patterns will be measured from 1 July 1999. The initial incentive payments will be made early in 2000-01, based on changes achiev ed in prescribing in the previous financial year.

The detailed design of the package will be done in full consultation with the medical profession.

Strengthening the Professional Services Review Scheme
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will consolidate the existing Professional Services Review (PSR) scheme functions from the Department of Health and Aged Care into a single agency t o be known as the Director of Professional Services Review .  The new agency will have increased funding to support expanded investigative and administrative functions.

The changes are aimed at improving the Scheme’s administration to ensure that the needs for legal effectiveness, transparency and natural justice are met as well as ensuring the maintenance of the peer review process upon which the Scheme is constructed. Increased funding for the new agency is partly offset by decreased funding to the Department of Health and Aged Care (for PSR Tribunal functions).

 

General practitioner involvement in coordinated care planning
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide, through the Medicare Benefits Schedule, for general practitioners to work with other health professionals, including other medical practitioners, domiciliary nurses, and home and community care providers, to develop coordinated care plans for  people with chronic and complex care needs. This measure forms part of the Government’s package of initiatives to enhance primary care , in particular, for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.

The measure includes an incentive for achieving such plans for a prescribed proportion of those aged 65 and over attending a practice. This measure is related to the expense measure under the Health and Aged Care portfolio titled Helping general practitioners participate in multidisciplinary care planning , which supports participation in multidisciplinary care.

Multidisciplinary case conferencing
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide, through the Medicare Benefits Schedule , for medical practitioners to work with other health professionals to undertake multi-disciplinary case conferencing. This is part of a package of Government initiatives which will enhance primary care in particular for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.

Case conferences facilitate better communication between a patient’s health care providers. Involving general practitioners and other care providers in case conferences will also help ensure that for patients with complex needs, the right health care providers are providing the most appropriate services at the right time.

 

Practice Incentives Programme - new care plan targets
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will make payments to general practitioners to achieve coordinated care plans for a proportion (yet to be prescribed) of their patients aged 65 years and over with chronic and complex health care needs. The measure is a part of a package of initiatives to enhance primary care in particular for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community. This practice based incentive will complement the payment of Medicare Benefits Schedule fee items for each individual care plan provided.

The cost of the incentive payments for this measure will be met from within the existing Practice Incentives Programme . The minor expenses shown for this measure reflect departmental expenses required to establish this new programme.

Voluntary annual health assessments for those aged 75 years and over
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide for Medicare Benefits Schedule rebates for voluntary annual health assessments for those Australians aged 75 years and over. The measure forms part of a package of initiatives to enhance primary care , in particular, for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.

These assessments will be designed to ensure early identification of health problems of old age, particularly those problems amenable to early intervention, and opportunities for prevention (for example, of falls).

Expanded Medicare easyclaim facilities
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish up to 600 add itional Medicare “easyclaim” facilities in rural and remote areas across Australia to assist people in those areas to access Medicare claiming services in a timely and convenient manner. Medicare claiming services will be provided via one of the various easyclaim technologies and from various outlets such as pharmacies, shire headquarters and rural transaction centres.

Further Information

Approximately 600 Medicare easyclaim facilities have already been installed in rural and remote communities and outer m etropolitan growth areas. This measure will expand this network of Medicare claiming services.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Expanding Medicare Access for Rural and Regional Australia .

Medicare - electronic commerce initiative
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Health Insurance Commission is actively pursuing innovation in health-related electronic commerce within the current legislative and policy framework. A number of trials are currently in progress to maximise the benefits to consumers, taxpayers and the medical profession. The outcomes of these trials will deliver savings from 2001-02 onwards.

 

Simplified billing in the private health industry
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide funding to encourage greater private health care usage by promoting simplified billing.

This funding will develop electronic commerce within the private health sector.  This funding will be used to create electronic links between billing agents, health funds, hospitals and medical practitioners by enhancing the Health Insurance Commission’s electronic links system, and working with the private health industry, including information technology specialists.

Seeding money will be provided to identified areas within the industry for the development of other relevant electronic commerce to complement existing systems.  This is consistent with achieving the broader policy objective of improving the value of private health insurance for consumers.

Further Information

Simplified billing addresses multiple bills and unknown out of pocket costs. Trials of simplified billing concluded in September 1998. The evaluation of these trials found that further promotion within the industry was required. The trials also demons trated that a key factor in successfully implementing simplified billing was the widespread utilisation of electronic commerce in the private health sector.

Lifetime Health Cover
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will implement Lifetime Health Cover as a part of its broader private health insurance reform strategy to ensure long term stability and balance in both the public and private health sectors.

Lifetime Health Cover will enable health funds to charge different premiums to people, depending on the age at which they first joined a health fund. People taking out hospital cover early in their lives will pay lower premiums than those taking it out later in life. The new system therefore rewards early and continuous membership. The premium paid by people entering private health insurance will be based on the age at which they first join and, once set, remains at that rate relative to premiums for people entering at different ages.

To ensure an equitable and fair transition, a 12 month grace period - from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000 - will allow people who are not insured to take out hospital cover at the base rate premium. Anyone currently with hospital cover will be credited with the lowest possible joining age and continue to pay the base rate premium.

Special provisions apply to people who are aged 65 and over on 1 July 1999.  They can take out hospital cover at any time in the future and still be credited with the minimum joining age.

This measure, together with concurrent reforms, has the potential to encourage a rise in health insurance membership numbers together with an improvement in membership profile. Funding for this measure is allocated towards a national education campaign and programme management costs for private health policy.

Further information

Lifetime Health Cover operates with a threshold age of 30 years. Anyone joining before or at the age of 30 pays the base rate premium for the rest of their m embership life. People over the age of 30 pay a 2 per cent loading on top of the base rate premium for every year they delay joining. For example, a person who delays joining until the age of 40 will pay 20 per cent more than someone who joined at the age of 30. The maximum loading allowed will be 70 per cent (at age 65) above the base rate paid by a 30 year old.

Helping general practitioners participate in multidisciplinary care planning
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide for education and training for general practitioners to engage in the new arrangements in the enhanced primary care package. The measure forms part of a package of initiatives to enhance primary care , in particular, for older Australians , people with complex or chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.  The measure links with other initiatives in the area of general practitioner education and training.

The measure will make use of existing structures and programmes that are part of the General Practice Strategy and will have four key elements:

  • a targeted research programme to explore the impact of the overall package;
  • development and trialing of a clinical audit package for use by general practitioners over the years 1999-2000 to 2000-2001;
  • assistance to Divisions of General Practice to enhance implementation of the overall package at the local level;  and
  • in partnership with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners , the development of aged care core curriculum components of a postgraduate training programme.
Further Information

This measure links closely with changes to research, education and evaluation strategies which were recommended in the General Practice Strategy Revi ew .  This measure relates to the expense measure under the Health and Aged Care portfolio titled General practitioner involvement in coordinated care planning

Integration of health information systems to support better delivery of care
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide funding for a tw o year programme to:

  • support research and development into the wider adoption of data communications to support care delivery; and
  • to support consideration of data communications across health and community care services as part of planning information technology investments in both the public and the private sectors.

The measure forms part of a package of initiatives to enhance primary care , in particular, for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.

Timely communication of relevant information is an important element in the coordinated delivery of care across different services and localities. The rapidly developing area of data communications provides new opportunities to facilitate such communication where it can help achieve better care.

Further Information

Research and development funds will be applied to address two issues central to wide ado ption of data communications in support of coordinated health care delivery:

  • developing approaches to secure electronic transactions in the health sector which are capable of being adopted system wide; and
  • exploring mechanisms for consumers to be involved in decisions about access to information about them, in a new environment of electronic information exchange.
Additional coordinated care trials
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish additional coordinated care trials in capital cities and selected regional centres to explore integrated delivery of health care to meet the needs of older people who are chronically ill or disadva ntaged.  There are currently nine general trials and four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trials underway.

The measure forms part of the Government’s package of initiatives to enhance primary care in particular for older Australians , people with chronic illnesses and those who require a range of different services to support them in the community.

  • This measure will support the extension and further development of existing coordinated care trials where appropriate.
  • As with the current trials, these new trials need to be developed in collaboration with the States and Territories as well as the medical profession and other health service providers.  Cooperation in the new trials will also be sought from the non-government and charitable sector.
  • The new trials will also support the establishment of a number of private sector trials targeting the development of new, more flexible forms of health insurance to cover coordinated care for those with private health insurance.
  • Trials for those with health insurance will explore the development of health insurance cover for community support services to enable people, particularly older people, to continue to live independently in the community, and to spend less time in hospital, where this is clinically appropriate.

 

Fighting suicide
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will strengthen and build on the success of the National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy to extend it across the whole age spectrum. This measure, which involves $ 48 million of funding over the next five years, was foreshadowed in the Government’s election document Our Families, Our Strength, Our Future .

The Fighting Suicide initiative will be delivered through a whole of community approach to suicide and build upon links and partnerships with government, non-government, business and community organisations which already provide valuable services and support to people at risk of suicide.  In addition, it will support primary prevention and community development projects, monitor media reporting and portrayal of suicide, reduce access to methods of suicide and provide support to rural and indigenous communities that have a high incidence of suicide.

Specific activities will include improving the evidence base in suicide prevention, providing professional education and training, enhancing specialist services, and building networks between primary care providers including non-government, general practice and other organisations at a community level.

Further Information

Fighting Suicide will draw on the experience of the successful Youth Homelessness Task Force and Tough on Drugs Strategy to involve community organisations in the development and implementation of practical initiatives to prevent suicide.

Retention payments for general practitioners in rural and remote areas
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will introduce retention payments for long serving general practitioners as an incentive for them to continue to practice in rural and remote areas.

It is envisaged that eligibility for in centive payments and the amount paid to individual doctors will take into account both the length of service and the remoteness of the area they are practising in.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in The Best of Health (Rural and Regional Australia) .

Further Information

Rural and remote communities are disadvantaged by their inability to attract and retain general practioners. There remains a need to provide adequate genera l practitioner services in rural areas and to provide support and encouragement for rural health workers.

About half of the general practitioners who move to rural areas remain there for less than two years. The Rural and Remote General Practice Programme , administered by State and Territory based Rural Workforce Agencies, currently attempts to address the recruitment and retention problems by providing flexible packages of incentives in particular communities.  The retention payments will complement this programme.

Developing a national strategic approach to improving asthma management
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will fund the development and implementation of a national strategic approach to improve asthma management.

This initiative will comprise a range of activities, including the development of education resources and tools to encou rage best practice in asthma management. These activities will either be delivered by the Department of Health and Aged Care or private providers through competitive tendering processes. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will develop a national system for the collection and collation of asthma statistics.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in The Best of Health - A Balanced Plan for a Stronger Australia .

Fly-in fly-out female general practitioner services to meet the needs of rural women
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish “fly-in fly-out” female general practitioner services for women living in rural and remote areas who currently do not have access to a female general practitioner.

The service will provide primary health care interventions - such as cervical cancer screening, breast and skin examination - and other preventive health care for women living in remote locations. The service will identify and provide the necessary intervention for other complex conditions such as cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, psychosocial problems and conditions related to the reproductive system and/or sexual health.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service will be centrally involved in the administration of the initiative, under arrangements that will seek to complement and draw together existing services in this area.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in The Best of Health - A Balanced Plan for a Stronger Australia .

Strengthening support for women with breast cancer
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide support services for women who have been diagn osed with breast cancer, particularly those in regional and rural areas .  The measure will improve health outcomes for women with breast cancer through access to specialised health care and improved dissemination of information regarding existing support services.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer living in regional and rural areas face special barriers to accessing treatment options and support services, a result of both geographic isolation and limited contact with specialist health care workers. It is proposed to identify and establish appropriate health care worker positions for the provision of support and information for women with breast cancer. This measure will require the establishment and administration of specialised training for appropriate personnel.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Opportunity and Choice .

Further Information

International experience has shown a significant improvement in outcomes for wo men with breast cancer who have received specialised health care.

Ongoing funding for the National Breast Cancer Centre
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will continue its funding for the National Breast Cancer Centre in Sydney. The measure will enable the Centre to maintain its key role in improving outcomes for women with, or at risk of, breast cancer.

Further Information

The Commonwealth has funded the National Breast Cancer Centre since 1995. The National Breast Cancer Centre aims to improve breast cancer control by improving clinical management and information access, supported by the best scientific eviden ce available across the continuum of care.

To date, the National Breast Cancer Centre has had a significant impact, particularly in the areas of improving the treatment of breast cancer, monitoring outcomes and disseminating information to women and health care professionals.  There is no other organisation within Australia which provides a national focus and coordinates activity aimed at improving outcomes for women with, or at risk of, breast cancer.

 

Deferral of some acute health care microeconomic reform activities
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

This measure will defer commencement of some projects as part of acute health care microeconomic reform initiatives. This will allow sufficient time for consultation with key stakeholders within the community including consumers and health providers to ensure the reforms are delivered more effectively.

30 new Regional Health Service Centres
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish 30 Regional Health Service Centres in rural communities across Australia. This will build on the successful Multipurpose Service programme under which the Commonwealth and States jointly fund services through flexible funding arrangements.

Regional Health Service Centres will enable a range of health, aged care and community services to be provided, based on community need, with particular emphasis on primary health care. These services could include rural health promotion, general practitioner services, illness and injury prevention, acute and palliative care, women’s health, children’s services, community nursing, aged care, mental health, podiatry, radiology and immunisation.

The Commonwealth will work closely with State and Territory Governments and local communities to ensure effective and coordinated services responsive to the needs of local communities. Where necessary, community planning managers will be employed to assist communities in the planning of services to reduce establishment times, assist in transition arrangements and ensure that services are responsive to community needs. Information technology infrastructure will be funded to enhance services and skills by linking Regional Health Service Centres to other services and infrastructure.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in The Best of Health (Rural and Regional Health) .

Bush Crisis Line upgraded
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will fund the continuation and expansion of the Bush Crisis Line , a 24-hour telephone crisis debriefing and counselling service which assists isolated rural and remote area health professionals to cope with job related trauma.

This initiative will provide improved services to a wide range of rural and remote health professionals, including those working in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This measure will increase the number of psychologist/counsellor positions, including provision for Indigenous co-counselling and access to locum/treatment services.

The cost of the measure is $ 559,000 over three years and will be funded from within existing portfolio resources.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Opportunity and Choice .

Further Information

The Bush Crisis Line is a personal sup port network which provides crisis debriefing and counselling for job related trauma among isolated rural and remote health practitioners and their families through a 24-hour free call 1800 number.

Further training for remote area nurses
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will fund first line emergency care training for remote area nurses to enable them to better assist victims of emergencies and trauma who are remote from modern life saving equipment and back-up emergency transport. This additional training will enable remote area nurses to treat patients pending the availability of further medical treatment. It will also ensure that a mobile group of emergency medicine specialists, medical practitioners and specially trained emergency care nurses are able to provide courses of instruction in first line emergency care to remote area nurses .

The measure will complement the ongoing emergency aero-medical evacuation services provided to remote areas of Australia by the Royal Flying Doctor Service .

The cost of the measure is $ 75,000 a year and will be funded from within existing portfolio resources.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Opportunity and Choice .

Better hearing services
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will ensure the demand for hearing services vouchers by eligible clients is met by providing for an additional 67,000 vouchers per annum, over and above the 83,000 vouchers per annum currently provided for. This will enable contracted service providers to continue to provide services through an adequate fee structure. The Government will also make available some additional funding to ensure that community service obligations are met, particularly in relation to services to children.

In addition, the measure includes the indexation of the maintenance charge (which service providers collect from clients) in line with Consmer Price Index movements.  It will also introduce a new client charge for replacing lost or damaged hearing aids, and will encourage greater prescription of Assistive Listening Devices in preference to hearing aids where this will provide appropriate outcomes for the client.

 

Improving access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

This measure will take forward the Government’s commitment to address the poor health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by enabling better access to comprehensive primary health care services. This measure is expected to make a sustainable difference to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the longer term.

This measure provides for the establishment of a framework for a planned and coordinated expansion of comprehensive primary health care services which includes clinical care, population health and education and health promotion activities. Funds will be in vested in areas where needs have been identified through completed joint Commonwealth/State/community regional health plans or where existing coordinated care trials have established that there is both a need and capacity to utilise funds effectively to deliver the required mix of services (including clinical care, population health and education and health promotion activities).

The new arrangements will involve continuing collaboration with the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, State and Territory governments, general practice and other health professionals.  They will bring about a better integration of general practice and mainstream health providers in delivering services for Indigenous people.

Further Information

This Commonwealth funding will be conditional on States and Territories providing resources to meet their funding obligations in this area and will be subject to output-based accountability arrangements.

 

Improved living conditions in remote communities
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will continue the Army/ATSIC Community Assistance Programme (AACAP) as part of a coordinated approach to provide environmental and health infrastructure to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This measure will extend the AACAP project for another four years. The extension of this programme meets an election commitment made by the Government to improve the basic infrastructure available in remote Indigenous communities.

Work to be undertaken will include improvements to water, sewerage, and power systems, the construction and upgrade of community housing and facilities, and improvements to roads and airstrips for an additional four or five remote Aboriginal communities.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Beyond Welfare .

Further Information

Funding made available through this initiative will be matched by existing funds from ATSIC’s National Aboriginal Health Strategy . The Army will contribute personnel, the use of construction equipment and expertise to the venture.

Carelink - information on community care
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish Carelink - single contact points for the 58 Home and Community Care Regions across Australia - to simplify access to community services. This measure forms part of the Government’s package of initiatives to achieve a substantial advance in the quality of health care delivered to older Australians .

With the establishment of these contact points, a single telephone call will provide access to information about service availability and eligibility for community care services. This measure will provide a crucial link between the health and community care sectors, and enable health professionals, general practitioners, other service providers, family carers, and individuals to gain easy access to the whole range of agencies providing support services in a region.

100 extra aged care beds in Regional Health Service Centres
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will fund 100 additional residential aged care places for Regional Health Service Centres, building upon its commitment to provide flexible service alternat ives for older Australians living in rural and remote areas.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in The Best of Health (Rural and Regional Health) .

Enhanced respite care services
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government is expanding the provision of respite care for carers of people with dementia and other cognitive and behavioural problems. This measure will improve access to available respite services and increase the range of services and support.

Funding will be delivered through the National Respite for Carers Programme .  There is currently around $ 208 million available for carer respite funding over the next four years.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in More Support for Carers .

Aged care capital funding assistance targeted particularly to rural Australia
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide additional funding to improve the infrastructure of residential aged care facilities , particularly those in rural and remote areas and those catering for other special needs groups.  The measure provides additional funding for the ongoing targeted capital programme that was established during the 1996-97 Structural Reform of Aged Care.

Industry restructuring - an investment in better aged care facilities
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide targeted assistance for residential aged care facilities to restructure to meet accreditation standards by 1 January 2001. This initiative will encourage longer term solutions such as the provision of detailed professional advice on long-term business options for financial viability, assistance in changing work practices to improve long-term viability and assistance to implement best-practice management and business arrangements.

The measure will improve the infrastructure and management capabilities of residential aged care facilities.

Further Information

Accredit ation is the formal recognition provided to a residential care service by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency where that service is considered to be operating in accordance with the legislative requirements of the Aged Care Act 1997 , and providing high quality care within a framework of continuous improvement. All services must obtain accreditation by 1 January 2001 to continue to receive Commonwealth government funding. In addition, services must meet certain building standards to receive certification.

The measure builds upon the 1997 measure to assist residential aged care facilities to restructure and meet certification and accreditation requirements.

Targeting residential care funds to those most in need
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government has decided to improve the risk management framework for residential aged care . The measure provides for additional audits of residents’ classifications. It will ensure that subsidy payments made on the basis of claims by service providers are consistent with residents’ confirmed care needs under the Resident Classification Scale .

Further Information

The funding received by service providers for care recipients depends upon the provider’s self-assessment of the care recipient’s needs under a Residential Classification Scale. This arrangement involves the du al risks that some providers may overestimate the needs of care recipients and that some care recipients will not be assessed as receiving the care that they require.

Pre 1 October 1997 Nursing Home Residents
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will p rovide funding to ensure that the small number of residents who have been in nursing home care since before 1 October 1997, and who move to another (non-extra service) facility, will not pay the accommodation charge.

Providers will be compensated for these residents to ensure that they are not financially disadvantaged by this change and to ensure access for any pre 1 October 1997 residents who move.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment.

Simplifying aged care planning for rural and remote areas
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will fund a review and improve planning arrangements for residential and community aged care . The review will focus on ensuring the needs of communities in rural and regional Australia are met in the planning process. This will provide greater flexibility and responsiveness in the delivery of aged care services to all older Australians.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Older Australians - A Secure and Stable Future .

Infrastructure support for health and medical research institutes
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government has decided to establish or augment physical facilities in health and medical research institutes. Many of Australia’s top performing health and medical researchers are based in these independent institutes, which are acknowledged as wor ld leaders for the conduct of high quality health and medical research.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Opportunity and Choice .

Further Information

The funding will be provided through a compet itive grants round. An expert Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council will advise the Minister on the allocation of the funds. Its recommendations will be based on the scientific excellence of the research currently being undertaken within an institute and the demonstrated need for new or augmented facilities in order to improve that level of research excellence in Australia.

Establishing regional medical schools
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish a clinical school to be based in Wagga Wagga , New South Wales, and a medical school at James Cook University in Queensland.  This measure is supported by an allocation from the Education, Training and Youth Affairs portfolio for 60 medical places at James Cook University, including 20 new places.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in The Best of Health (Rural and Regional Health) .

Further Information

The Government made a commitment to provide $ 10 million in capital funding for a new medical school at James Cook University.

This funding, conditional upon Australian Medical Council accreditation of the medical school, is provided on the understanding that it matches $ 10 million pledged by the Queensland Government. Some of the funding for the establishment of a clinical school at Wagga Wagga will be resourced from existing portfolio allocations.

There is a shortage of medical practitioners in rural areas. Evidence suggests that both increasing the number of rural students in medicine and increasing exposure to rural service in medical training will improve the recruitment and retention of medical practitioners in rural areas. This measure is consistent with other initiatives such as providing financial assistance to universities to increase the number of indigenous and rural students enrolled in medicine.

See the related expense measure under the Education, Training and Youth Affairs portfolio titled Additional places for the James Cook University Medical School .