May 15, 2024

2024 Federal Budget: What it means for Health

Significant policy initiatives were announced for the PBS and to boost Medicare, aged care and mental health services.

What did the Budget actually deliver?


Following on from last year’s sizeable investment in Medicare, this year’s budget announced an additional $2.8 billion over five years to support the system.

This includes:

  • $882.2 million over five years to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and support the earlier discharge of older Australians from hospitals by addressing challenges that long stay patients face, providing additional short term care following discharge, and improving the transition to residential aged care or palliative services.
  • $895.6 million over four years to support the Medicare Benefits Schedule. This includes funding permanent items on the MBS for PCR pathology testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens; improvements to primary care and clinical practice (including maternity care, complex gynaecological conditions and imaging technologies for cancer patients); indexation for labour-intensive pathology services; improving the viability of nuclear medicine imaging via a schedule fee increase and annual indexation (in line with other diagnostic imaging).
  • $631.1 million over four years (and $112.1 million per year ongoing) to support access to vaccines, including for COVID-19 and shingles & postherpetic neuralgia.
  • $227.0 million over three years to add a further 29 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics across the country (bringing the total to 87) – reducing pressure on hospital emergency departments.
  • $121.3 billion over four years to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service and expand Healthdirect Australia to expand services (particularly to remote communities).
  • The aged care sector will receive $2.2 billion over five years to continue reforms and implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The package includes:
    • $1.2 billion to support and enhance critical aged care digital systems.
    • $531.4 million in 2024-25 to fund an additional 24,100 Home Care Packages.
    • $110.9 million over four years to increase the regulatory capability of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
    • $87.2 million over four years to attract and retain aged care workers.
    • $37 million for the My Aged Care Contact Centre to reduce wait times.

New and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will cost $3.4 billion over five years and include treatments for COVID-19, leukaemia, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease and ovarian cancer among others.

The government will also spend $480.2 million over five years to improve access to and reduce the costs of a range of medicines. This measure includes pausing indexation of PBS general co-payments in 2025 and concessional co-payments from 2025 through to 2029.

Mental health services received $888.1 million over eight years (with an additional $139.8 million per year ongoing) to strengthen the system and support suicide prevention. Some of this funding had already been allocated in earlier programs, with partial funding from existing resources of the Department of Health and Aged Care, with new funding over the next four years totalling $100.6 million. This measure includes:

  • $588.5 million over eight years for a free of charge digital mental health service without referral for people with mild concerns.
  • $71.7 million over four years for design and delivery of mental health multidisciplinary services for patients with severe and/or complex needs in primary care settings.
  • $35.9 million over four years to extend existing mental health measures that were due to expire.
  • $29.9 million over four years to expand free community based mental health services for adults with moderate-to-severe mental health needs.
  • The disability support sector also received additional spending. This included:
    • $468.7 million over five years to upgrade the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission’s IT systems, respond to the findings of the Independent NDIS Review and improve fraud detection and prevention. Some of this funding for this measure has already been provided.
    • $253.6 million over five years to invest in a new specialised disability employment program and to improve employment services and supports for people with disability.

Read the full report here Federal Budget 2024-25 – What does it mean for Health