Labor has always supported better access to medicines and welcomes today’s addition of an additional four drugs to the approximately 1,000 existing medicines and 5,000 brands already on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Labor established the PBS more than 60 years ago to make essential medicines available and affordable to those who need them.
When Labor was last in government between 2007 and 2013 we added almost $6 billion in new medicines to the PBS, including $2 billion of cancer drugs.
We also made important changes, including accelerated price disclosure, to ensure the PBS remained sustainable and could pay for the new drugs recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to be added to the PBS.
While the Abbott Government has been trying to dismantle Medicare, ripping money out of hospitals and general practice and making medicines more expensive, Labor has been fighting to ensure that people get the health care they need, not just what they can afford.
That’s why we have been fighting this government’s plan to make essential medicines more expensive by hiking up the cost of prescriptions by $5 for general patients and $0.80 for concession card holders.
It is also why Labor continues to oppose the GP Tax in any form, including the current proposal for a four year freeze on Medicare rebates, which will rip more than $1 billion out of general practice and force doctors to slash bulk billing and increase out of pocket costs for patients.
If the government is serious about making health care affordable next Tuesday’s Budget must kill off the GP Tax once and for all by abandoning the four year freeze on Medicare rebates for GPs and the $5 hike in the price of essential medicines.
The Minister also needs to clarify her continuing conflicting explanations for the funding of the Medical Research Future Fund.
The Minister has again today declared all health savings will be directed to the MRFF.
However, earlier this month the Minister told the AMA savings would instead be redirected back into health.
The government promised the MRFF would be operating by January 1st first this year, but has today revealed the fund will not be operating before August at the earliest.
Meanwhile, all the health cuts the government promised would be directed into the MRFF, such as the billions cuts from public hospitals, dental programs and preventative health continue, continue to pile up, boosting Treasurer Joe Hockey’s bottom line and doing nothing for health care.
Labor is prepared to work in a bipartisan way to support health and medical research, but not at the expense of cutting vital services and hurting today’s patients.