The Medical Research Future Fund has reached $4.4 billion after another $1.277 billion was transferred to what is budgeted to become a $20 billion endowment fund by early next decade.
The MRFF was announced in the 2014-15 Budget funded through savings measures in the health portfolio, including higher PBS co-payments and safety net thresholds, changes to the Medicare safety net and the now scrapped GP co-payment.
The MRFF was originally budgeted to reach its $20 billion target in 2019-20. However, Treasury confirmed earlier this year government's failure to secure parliamentary support for all of the savings measures, including the PBS and Medicare safety net changes, will delay reaching the target by one year.
According to Treasury, "At the 2014-15 Budget, the Simplifying Medicare Safety Net measure was to save $266.7 million and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – increase in co-payments and safety net thresholds was to save $1.3 billion over the forward estimates. If the savings from these two measures are excluded, the MRFF would be expected to reach $20 billion one year later, in 2020-21."
The MRFF is expected to deliver around $800 million in disbursements over the next four years. Government has already announced the first spending under the MRFF - $250 million for a Biomedical Translation Fund to support mid-stage development.
Professor Doug Hilton, president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, said the MRFF will not only improve life expectancy and quality of life for Australians, but it would also generate to financial returns by reducing the burden of disease and driving productivity through the creation of innovative businesses and jobs.
“But perhaps the most important benefit this investment in the Medical Research Future Fund will bring is hope. Every person fighting a life-threatening disease, and their friends and family, lives in the hope that health and medical research will deliver to them better treatments, or even cures for their condition,” said Professor Hilton.