A $2.4 billion COVID-19 health package to protect Australians, with an emphasis on vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those with chronic conditions and Indigenous communities has been announced.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said the package would provide unprecedented support across primary care, aged care, hospitals, research and the national medical stockpile.
He said it would ensure that Australia’s health system was well prepared and had the resources it needed to fight COVID-19 and protect the community.
“This package is about preventing and treating Coronavirus in the coming weeks,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our medical experts have been preparing for an event like this for years and this is the next step up in Australia’s plan.”
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said the health system’s capacity was being boosted to effectively assess, diagnose and treat people with COVID-19 in a way that minimised the spread of the disease in the community.
He said the package included $100 million to fund a new Medicare service for people in home isolation or quarantine to receive health consultations via the phone or video call.
“The telehealth service will help contain the spread of the virus; it will be bulk-billed at no cost to patients and will be available from today (13 March),” Mr Hunt said.
“These telehealth consultation services will be provided by doctors, both GPs and specialists, nurses and mental health allied health workers.”
Mr Hunt said $25 million would be provided to fund home medicines services and there would be a fast-tracked rollout of electronic prescribing.
He said a total of $206.7 million had been allocated for up to 100 dedicated respiratory clinics with Medicare-funded and bulk-billed pathology tests for COVID-19.
An $18 billion economic stimulus package was also announced by the Prime Minister this week, aimed at supporting the Australian economy as it grapples with the effects of disruptions caused by COVID-19.