Thursday, 8 October 2020
Questions without Notice
I want to thank the member for Moore, who has been a great advocate for new medicines, for telehealth, and for so many other innovative solutions for Australian patients. As we've gone through the pandemic, one of the things we've also been able to do is to advance the Long Term National Health Plan for Australia. The budget this week does precisely that. In terms of Medicare, there is a $6 billion increase in funds that are allocated. Even more important than the funds is the landmark transformative reform, borne of the pandemic, that is telehealth, a landmark reform that otherwise would have been expected to have taken 10 years. It was delivered in 10 days, with the help of the professions and the Public Service and with the support of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. That has been embedded in this budget. It's now seen 33 million services delivered to Australians. Over 11 million Australians have benefited. Over $2.4 million was invested in the delivery of telehealth services. It will change the face of medicine in Australia forever.
Alongside that, I'm immensely pleased that we've been able to put in place the New Medicines Funding Guarantee, designed to ensure that what happened in 2011, when medicines were stopped in terms of their listing in the then budget, never happens again in Australia—that medicines are guaranteed for all Australians for all time. What did Medicines Australia say of this?
Mr Bowen interjecting—
'while also stimulating the economy, must be congratulated. Maintaining an innovation focus that supports Australia's health is a fundamental strategy to our recovery.' We have backed that with the listing of new medicines, such as Avastin and Tecentriq, for cellular carcinoma, which is a primary liver cancer. Having this condition backed by this medicine will mean that 500 patients who would otherwise face a bill of $170,000 will now have access to this breakthrough, potentially life-saving medicine for as little as $6.60 a script. That's about saving lives. That's about protecting lives. That's about investing in medicines, Medicare and all of the life-saving and life-protecting measures that are such a part of the long-term national health plan. It backs what we've done through COVID. It backs Australians and it says to them that we've got their back.