Budget communique

What you need to know as a physiotherapist

In reviewing the May 2016 Federal Budget, the APA highlights the key points for the physiotherapy profession.

Continuation of the freeze on indexation of Medicare Scheduled fees until 2020 — saving $925m

  • Medicare rebates freeze will continue – although this was expected it still concerning to physiotherapists in private practice and has now been extended until 2020.
  • Health Minister Sussan Ley says that this indexation freeze can be revisited as savings from the Healthier Medicare reforms save are seen. This is another reason our continued participation in the Medicare review is vital for physiotherapists.
  • A consequential effect is that this will freeze DVA rebates for physiotherapy. Under Medicare, physiotherapists can charge an out-of-pocket cost but this isn’t possible for DVA patients, so the real cost is being undertaken by practitioners.
  • There is a fundamental need to invest heavily in physiotherapy for community dwelling veterans for preventative treatment such as falls management programs. Physiotherapists must continue to advocate for appropriate funding or the ability to charge an out-of-pocket cost to DVA patients.
  • This cuts $1 billion from Medicare, without substantial reinvestment in other parts of the primary health care sector.

Reforms to the Complex Health Care (CHC) section of the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) — saving $1.2 billion

  • Reform to the ACFI could be positive if the APA recommendations are taken into consideration. The APA is concerned that cuts will be made without relevant additions to the funding of programs in residential aged care.

Reform should include:

  • Active physiotherapy programs for residents including exercise.
  • Restrictions on who can perform complex pain management items and minimum time requirements.
  • Reduction in the frequency of some items, and increased minimum time requirements.

Funding for a trial of the Health Care Homes in general practice initiative announced in March 2016 — $21.3 million

  • This is not new money, but is being re-directed from the existing CDM and care planning items for GPs. No new money has been allocated to physiotherapy or other allied health services to pay for the treatment that these patients need.

Tax cuts and concessions for small, medium and large business

  • A cut in the company tax rates for small business and commitment to reduce all company tax to 25 per cent by 2026.
  • An extension of the $20,000 equipment write off to medium to large business will benefit physiotherapy practices turning over between $2 and $10m annually.

Establishment of an NDIS Savings Fund — $2.1 billion

  • This is good news to ensure that the NDIS is sustainable in the medium term.

No announcements on PHI, other than for the establishment of private health insurance and prosthesis committees to provide advice on reform to PHI — $2 million

Commitment to the Indigenous Student Success in Higher Education — $9.7 million

  • Funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete their university studies and establish professional careers.
  • This is a relatively small amount, but could be utilised to support the development of more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander physiotherapists