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Pandemic response receives $1.4 billion boost


Matt Woodley


19/09/2022 4:14:01 PM

COVID-19 response measures were due to expire in less than two weeks but have now been extended until the end of the year.

Mark Butler
Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler confirmed that $5 million will be used to extend telehealth MBS items to support antiviral prescriptions. (Image: AAP)

An additional $1.4 billion will support the extension of Australia’s COVID-19 response measures, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler has announced.
 
The measures, extended until 31 December, were originally due to expire at the end of September and include:

  • more than $142 million towards MBS items and rebates for the testing of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses
  • $48 million to extend around 100 GP-led respiratory clinics
  • $5 million to extend telehealth MBS items to prescribe antivirals
  • $5.5 million spent on additional rebates for face-to-face GP visits for patients with COVID-19
  • more than $235 million to support the provision of personal protective equipment, treatments, rapid antigen tests and other supplies from the National Medical Stockpile for aged care, primary care, disability care and First Nations health services and frontline healthcare workers.
RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the measures will make a ‘real difference’ to Australia’s under pressure healthcare system.
 
‘GPs, practice managers, nurses, receptionists, and administrative workers are doing a tremendous job after a gruelling two-and-a-half years,’ she said.
 
‘We need all the support we can get so the measures … are timely and most welcome.’
 
COVID hospitalisations have decreased by about 70% since the latest Omicron wave peaked in July, Minister Butler said, but he warned the virus still poses a ‘substantial threat to the community’, especially for those at risk of severe illness.
 
‘There is still tragic loss of life being felt by about 45 families, on average, every single day because of COVID,’ he said.
 
‘There is still very real pressure on our health and our hospital system because of ongoing infections.’
 
Professor Price also warned against complacency, saying the pandemic is ‘not over’.
 
‘It’s vital to keep fighting this virus and do all we can to keep vulnerable members of our community, including older people and the immunocompromised, as safe as possible,’ she said.
 
‘I encourage everyone to help limit the spread of this virus and ease pressure on our entire health system. So, please get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask indoors or where social distancing is challenging and take those extra steps necessary to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.
 
‘We all have a role to play, it’s as simple as that.’
 
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newsGP weekly poll Would the reintroduction of MBS items for GPs to trace and report on electrocardiogram (ECGs) be beneficial to patients?
 
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newsGP weekly poll Would the reintroduction of MBS items for GPs to trace and report on electrocardiogram (ECGs) be beneficial to patients?

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