p>Federal Labor is calling on Mr Hockey to guarantee that health funding will be quarantined from the Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit.
Federal Labor is calling on Mr Hockey to guarantee that health funding will be quarantined from the Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit.
Every time a new drug is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the money has to be found somewhere. If health funding is not quarantined from the Commission of Audit, it has to be found from somewhere in the portfolio – from medical research; from funding to hospitals; or from Medicare subsidies. If no funding is to be quarantined then every area of health funding is at risk.
Mr Hockey confirmed areas of health funding would be cut when he told 7:30’s Annabel Crabb:
…it didn’t mean that you can’t identify waste in those areas and reallocate it to other priorities in the same portfolio.
Subsiding new drugs on the PBS by cutting money to hospitals and funding for medical research can only constitute cuts to health funding. By including health funding in its Commission of Audit the Government has opened the door to cuts to cancer treatment, cuts to Medicare and cuts to frontline health jobs.
By entering into this process Mr Hockey is following the same playbook as his conservative state counterparts in Queensland. Despite that government’s promises, hundreds of nurses and other frontline healthcare workers were sacked following the recommendations of former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello’s Commission of Audit.
The Coalition made a commitment in opposition not to cut medical research funding. If medical research funding is not to be cut Mr Dutton needs to come out immediately and guarantee it will be quarantined from the Commission of Audit. If he is unwilling to do this, it stands to reason that it is open to cuts.
In Government, Labor listed more than $6 billion worth of new medicines on the PBS. We invested more than $8 billion building new hospitals and other health infrastructure, increased real funding in medical research and invested more than $700 million in new research infrastructure.
If this Government is serious about health funding it should quarantine health from its Commission of Audit and explain where it will find the money to ensure health remains a priority.