A Senate report into the Abbott Government’s PBS price hikes has been told the increases will force pensioners and other vulnerable groups to miss essential medicines, leading to higher long term costs for taxpayers.
The report confirms that those hit hardest by the hikes in the PBS payments and safety net are the sick and chronically ill, with the committee finding that “..very high users will pay $145.30 extra per single, couple or family per year to reach the general patient safety net.” (2.8)
In a damning indictment, the committee reported:
“Some submitters questioned whether the increases in co-payments may result in unintended consequences due to the inability of some patients to fill their prescriptions due to rising costs. Submitters expressed concern that this may result in severe health consequences for vulnerable patients and increased health expenditure in the longer term as well as consequences for the pharmaceutical sector.”(2.9)
The Australian Medical Association told the Inquiry international research “…demonstrates increases in co–payments leads to poorer adherence to prescriptions which would cost taxpayers and the government more in the long term.” (2.18)
This was backed up by Medicines Australia:
"Missing medicines and interrupting treatment may lead to adverse patient outcomes and potentially avoidable medical interventions, including hospital admissions. Reducing the appropriate use of medicines can result [in] significant additional expenditure in other parts of the healthcare system." (2.19)
While government senators ignored the evidence and continue to back the price hikes, Labor Senators on the inquiry listened to the evidence, and the experts, to produce an unequivocal recommendation:
“Labor Senators recommend that the Senate reject the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2014.”
“This report demonstrates that just as with its $7 GP Tax, the Abbott Government isn’t listening to anyone about the disastrous long term consequences of its Budget for the nation’s health, and finances,” Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King MP said today.
“What sort of health policy is deliberately designed to stop vulnerable people going to the doctor, and taking essential medicines?
“This is a disastrous policy which is bad for patients, bad for the health system and bad for the Budget.
“This is why Labor will not support Tony Abbott’s unfair and regressive $7 GP Tax and medicine price hikes.
“How much more evidence does Tony Abbott need that his budget is disastrous for health, and the long term Budget, before he axes his unfair GP Tax and medicine price hikes?
“Australians should get the healthcare and medicines they need, not what they can afford.”