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Spending on health

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The federal budget has prioritised the health system, with plans for extensive spending on primary health care in addition to the $5.1 billion hospital funding announced in April. The total package will be financed through changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme worth $2.5 billion, and an increase in the tobacco tax, expected to raise $5 billion over five years.

The proposed Denticare scheme, aimed at providing free or heavily subsidised dental services to all Australians has been rejected, as has significant new funding for mental illness programs.

The main budget health initiatives include:

  • $355 million to establish 23 new GP super-clinics and upgrade 425 existing general practices
  • $417 million to improve after- hours health through the establishment of a network of primary health care organisations known as Medicare Locals
  • $390 million for 4,600 new practice nurses to work in GP clinics, including funding of up to $25,000 for each GP to employ a registered nurse
  • $129 million to support aged care and rural nurses
  • $467 million to fund the introduction of individual electronic health records

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