The Abbott Government’s health policy is in complete chaos after Treasurer Joe Hockey today overruled the Health Minister and forced her to reinstate her unfair hikes in prescription costs.
The Health Minister yesterday blew a $1.3 billion hole in the Budget be admitting she could not get her $5 hike in prescription costs and unfair changes to the PBS safety net through Parliament.
But less than 24 hours later, the minister has been forced into a humiliating backflip by the Treasurer.
I’ve said emphatically to the Minister and the Minister, all the Ministers know, that if one saving comes off the table, another one needs to be found of equivalent value.
Treasurer Joe Hockey, Sunrise, 22 May 2015
Yesterday, the minister emphatically declared the unfair PBS changes to be dead.
I am not going to waste time putting things through the Parliament that are going to be voted down by my colleagues.
Health Minister Sussan Ley. Press Conference, 21 May 2015
But after being read the riot act by the Treasurer, the minister has been forced into issuing an embarrassing late night statement repudiating her own remarks of less than 24 hours earlier.
I am applying the principle that a saving doesn’t come off the table unless an alternative saving goes on.
Health Minister Sussan Ley statement, 22 May 2015
The Minister’s backflip has made clear that under the Abbott Government, Budget cuts take priority over the health of Australians.
This is despite yesterday’s admission there is no support for her unfair changes to the PBS and the promised Budget savings are a fraud included solely to prop up Joe Hockey’s bottom line.
Today’s backflip means patients, and in particular the most chronically ill, remain in the Government’s sights.
Not content with having cut $60 billion from health last year, and another $2 billion this year, the Minister has been instructed by Joe Hockey she either has to hit some of Australia’s sickest patients with higher medicine charges, or find new areas of health to cut.
The Minister must immediately come clean on what further health cuts she now has in her sights. More cuts to hospitals? More cuts to general practice? More cuts to drug and alcohol programs?
It yet again highlights that Tony Abbott only ever sees health as a target for Budget cuts and only Labor can be trusted to look after Australia’s health system.