What does the latest MYEFO mean for general practice?

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

4/01/2021 2:44:38 PM

From incentive funds to aged care and COVID-19 – a summary of the 2020–21 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Calculator and stethoscope.
Announced by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook includes three additional General Practice Incentive Funds to attract and retain GPs.

The 2020–21 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released on Thursday 17 December, builds on the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.
Among the key announcements for general practice is the investment of $4 million over three years for three additional General Practice Incentive Funds to attract and retain GPs in Tasmania, Perth South, and Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network regions.
In a bid to ‘improve the integrity of Medicare payments, including telehealth items’ the role of the Practitioner Review Program and the Professional Services Review will be expanded, and is projected to save the Government $157.2 million over four years.
Aged care
In response to recommendations stemming from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s special report on COVID-19, the Government has committed $146.5 million over four years.
This includes $63.3 million over three years to provide additional allied and mental health services to residents in aged care facilities, including those directly affected by COVID-19 (more information on the new MBS items is available on the RACGP website), as well as:

  • $57.8 million to increase the scope of aged care services funded by the Commonwealth under the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response to include infection prevention and control activities and resources for coordinated COVID-19 preparedness and response
  • $10.8 million over four years (and $200,000 in 2024–25) to prioritise the implementation of the serious incident response scheme to 1 April 2021 in residential aged care
  • $8.2 million over four years to extend the operation of the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre to ensure a continued, coordinated rapid response to COVID-19 across aged care facilities in Victoria
  • $6.3 million to temporarily suspend the reduction in the residential aged care subsidy paid when a resident is on extended hospital leave, for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, in recognition that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a significant number of residents moved to hospital for an extended period of time
Older Australians will also be supported to stay at home longer, with $850.8 million over four years for the release of an additional 10,000 home care packages.
Access to affordable new medicines
The Government will provide $682.6 million for new and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) and the Stoma Appliance Scheme. New and amended listings since the 2020–21 Budget, available from 1 December 2020, include:
  • dolutegravir with lamivudine for the treatment of HIV infection
  • nusinersen for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy
  • ambrisentan in a dual combination therapy for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • clostridium botulinum type A toxin — haemagglutinin complex for the treatment of moderate to severe focal spasticity of the upper limb in patients with cerebral palsy
  • rifampicin for the treatment of Buruli ulcer
  • ixekizumab for the treatment of active ankylosing spondylitis
  • venetoclax in combination with obinutuzumab for the first-line treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who have co-existing conditions and are unsuitable for fludarabine-based chemo-immunotherapy.
To ensure access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the existing remote and rural area exemption for diagnostic imaging equipment will be maintained for a further 12 months. 
Investment into combating the coronavirus also continues, including $1.5 billion over two years, helping to secure additional doses of potential vaccine candidates to bolster supply following the Government’s decision to cease its agreement with the University of Queensland and CSL.
This includes a further 61 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax candidates, in addition to the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca candidate, providing access to a total of 114.8 million doses.
An additional $75.2 million has been allocated to support the COVID-19 Vaccination Program to assist with tracking and monitoring systems, a national communication campaign, and program administration.
The funding will also ensure the continuation of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce’s preparation of clinical guidelines for health professionals on appropriate COVID-19 treatments.
Additionally, the Government will provide $6 million over two years to support mandatory reporting of all vaccines to the Australian Immunisation Register.  
Meanwhile, to support vaccine access in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, as previously announced, the Government will allocated $500 million over three years, including $21 million over two years towards a new, Japanese-sponsored ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
Primary Health Care 10–Year Plan
The next Federal Budget in May is projected to be significant for GPs, an RACGP spokesperson told newsGP,
with the Government expected to make announcements relating to the anticipated Primary Health Care 10–Year Plan.
Throughout 2020, the RACGP participated in several consultation workshops regarding this roadmap, including discussions with the Department of Health as recently as December with regards to telehealth and voluntary patient enrolment, both of which are likely to be important elements of the plan with budget commitment for implementation.
As the RACGP prepares its pre-budget submission, RACGP members interested in having their say on what should be included can email
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