The Abbott Government remains committed to hiking the cost of prescriptions, Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash today confirmed.
In answer to questions on whether it was still Abbott Government policy to raise prescriptions by $5 for general patients and $0.80 for concession card holders, Senator Nash replied
“The government policy hasn’t changed.”
Fiona Nash, Senate Estimates, 1 June 2015
Senator Nash’s statement confirms the Abbott Government has now come full circle on the PBS price hikes.
Despite the price hikes being stalled in the Senate since last year, the Budget recommitted to the increases in the PBS co-payment.
But just nine days later the Health Minister blew a $1.3 billion hole in that Budget by declaring she would not proceed with the legislation.
“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 was forced into issuing an embarrassing late night backflip.
“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, 21 May 2015
Now, the Assistant Minister for Health has confirmed “the government policy hasn’t changed” and that contrary to the minister’s repeated claims about cheaper drugs, the Abbott Government remains committed to making all patients pay more for prescriptions.
This confirms patients, and in particular the most chronically ill, remain in the Abbott 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?
This 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.