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MS Australia’s response to the May 2023-24 Federal Budget – Impact on the MS community

The 2023-24 Federal Budget was delivered on 9 May 2023.

MS Australia’s analysis of this Budget is through the lens of the two areas of fundamental need for people living with MS – firstly, better treatments, prevention and ultimately, a cure for the disease and secondly improved support for management and care, particularly through systemic improvements to the health care, disability and aged care sectors.

Some highlights below. For our full analysis please download this document.

Medicines

MS Australia welcomes changes to some Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines to allow Australians to buy two months’ worth of medicine for the price of a single (one month) prescription. For some Australians this will ensure cheaper medicines, reduce time spent accessing medicines and reduce the instances of missing doses:

  • $1.2 billion by allowing 2 months’ worth of certain PBS medicines to be dispensed by pharmacies from 1 September 2023. Per year, per medicine, concession card holders may save up to $43.80 and general patients may save up to $180.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

MS Australia has advocated over many years for improvements to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) including around planning and assistive technology. We welcome the improvements to the NDIS outlined in this budget including:

  • Funding for the NDIA’s capability and systems, to improve processes and planning decisions
  • Funding to support a lifetime approach to ensure plans are more transparent and flexible for life events

Aged Care

Many older Australians living with MS must pursue their disability needs through the aged care system. MS Australia has advocated for changes to the aged care system to better meet the needs of older people with disability and provide high quality, person-centre care. MS Australia welcomes the following funding that will improve and strengthen the aged care system:

  • $310 million implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and other initiatives to strengthen the regulation of the aged care sector and improve the health and safety of older Australians receiving aged care

Disability & Aged Care Workforce

MS Australia welcomes measures to support people working in the disability and aged care workforce and to support more people to enter the workforce, including:

  • $515 million to fund the outcome of the Fair Work Commission’s decision on the Aged Care Work Value Case. This will increase award wages by 15 per cent from 30 June 2023 for many aged care workers.

Energy Concessions

People living with MS use household energy at higher rates than average and therefore have significant energy expenses, as 90% of people with MS are heat intolerant. MS Australia acknowledges that there are a range of energy concessions in the budget that will provide energy price relief, including:

  • $3 billion of electricity bill relief for eligible households and small businesses. From July 2023, this plan will deliver up to $500 in electricity bill relief for eligible households.

Smoking

Recognising that tobacco is a major risk factor for MS, MS Australia welcomes budget measures aimed at reducing the prevalence of vaping and smoking, including:

  • $63.4 million for national public health campaigns to prevent uptake and reduce smoking and vaping including a targeted youth campaign. An additional $141.2 million to prevent the uptake, and reduce the prevalence, of vaping by First Nations Australians.

Research

MS Australia welcomes the commitment in this budget to a 3.6% increase over 2022-2023 funding for the NHMRC. This brings the NHMRC in line with inflation and is welcome news for the research community. However, MS Australia is concerned that the funding for the Medical Research Future Fund remains static at $650m per annum, meaning it fails to keep up with inflation and is declining in real terms.

For our full analysis please download this document.

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MS Australia’s response to the May 2023-24 Federal Budget – Impact on the MS community