Federal Budget 2020-21 and diabetes

Friday, 9 October 2020

The 2020-21 Federal Budget, handed down later than usual because of COVID-19, has a number of measures which may be useful to people living with diabetes.

In a Budget that unsurprisingly focuses on the virus response and impact, there was allowance for the continued increased use of telehealth.

This can involve Medicare consultations with doctors and your diabetes health team including allied health practitioners. This may include psychologists, pharmacists, podiatrists, optometrists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, occupational therapists and accredited exercise physiologists.

Funding for these Medicare telehealth measures has been extended by six months in this Budget, while longer-term plans are developed.

This development will be of interest to people living with diabetes as the use of telehealth by health and allied health practitioners is an important service both in the pandemic and as a continuing service.

It’s of particular use to people living remotely who can’t easily access regular medical attention.

Diabetes NSW & ACT is seeking an undertaking from the Government to continue telehealth to keep people engaged with their health care.

Rural health access receives continued funding in the Budget, with a trial of connected health models across rural communities in New South Wales. This is being used to investigate wider reforms of primary health care in rural areas, and looks at networks of GPs, nurses and other health providers.

Mental health is a priority in the Budget, especially in light of COVID and bushfires this year. This includes a new Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Line.

Private Health Insurance reforms, started in recent years with the switch to a tiered system of payment, continue. Some of the newer initiatives include increasing the age of dependents from 24 to 31, meaning those people can retain continuity of cover and relevant people can remain on family cover.

Since July, a Pharmaceutical Benefits Subsidy has been listed for Ozempic (semaglutide) for patients with insufficiently controlled type 2 diabetes.  This is a high cost medication, at about $1,700 per course of treatment, and will benefit about 40,000 Australians.

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