Commonwealth announces extension of COVID-19 emergency measures, including continued dispensing and home medicines delivery, to end of year
The Federal Government has announced $1.1 billion towards extending the national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until 31 December 2021.
This investment will extend the Continued Dispensing Emergency Measure to the end of the year, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.
Around 289,000 people have had at least one supply of medicine under the measure so far, said Mr Morrison.
The funding boost will also extend delivery of Home Medicine Services across the country, with more than 2.1 million services delivered under the measure so far.
Pharmacy Guild Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone said the announcement was welcome news.
“These measures were originally meant to expire this month, 31 March, but now they’ve been extended to 31 December which is great news, this is what the Guild advocated for,” said Mr Tassone.
“There needs to be some things that happen at the state and territory level for recognising and authorising continued dispensing and emergency supply. That will probably take its natural course now that the Commonwealth have extended it until the 31 December.”
Prime Minister Morrison said: “Australia’s suppression strategy has been extremely successful to date, particularly when compared with the devastation caused by the virus in many places overseas.
“Australia’s remarkable performance in saving lives is evident – we have the second lowest case rate and third lowest mortality rate amongst countries in the OECD.
“This new commitment will ensure that key measures remain in place throughout 2021 to protect the community while vaccinations roll out over the coming months.”
Electronic prescription services will continue to be supported under the Commonwealth investment, with 3.8 million electronic prescriptions and repeats to patients issued and almost 1.7 million dispensed to date.
Telehealth services and care will so far only be extended until 30 June 2021.
The Government says it will continue to review the ongoing role of COVID-19 telehealth to support the pandemic in the short term, while planning permanent post-pandemic telehealth arrangements with peak doctor groups.
To date, more than 51 million telehealth services have been delivered to 13 million patients, across more than 82,000 providers. This adds up to almost $2.6 billion in benefits paid.
Other measures to be extended until 31 December include support for: testing and treating people with COVID-19 at the state and territory level; rapid pathology testing and tracing; GP-led respiratory clinics; testing and treatment for remote Australia; the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service; and aged care facilities.
“These measures have supported our response to COVID-19 outbreaks when they occurred. Extending them will ensure Australians remain COVID safe,” said Mr Morrison.
“Our Government will continue to monitor the pandemic and the progress of our vaccination program so we can take the swift action needed to ensure we keep Australians safe and the economy on the road to recovery.”