Pharmacy stakeholders have welcomed Labor’s announcement that if elected, it will scrap the Turnbull Liberal Government’s cuts to the PBS.
Labor says this will ensure that there will be no increase to PBS copayments or safety net thresholds in addition to regular indexation.
“Labor’s announcement provides patients with certainty about what they would be expected to contribute to the cost of their medicines under a Shorten Government,” the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said in a statement.
“Health Minister Sussan Ley has previously indicated she does not intend to proceed with these co-payment and safety net threshold increases, but they have been kept in the forward estimates.
“The Guild understands that any savings from this 2014 Budget measure were being devoted to the Medical Research Future Fund rather than to the budget bottom line.
“The May Budget confirmed the Government already stands to reap over $20 billion in savings from PBS reforms between 2015 and 2020, making it the most fiscally sustainable part of the entire health system.”
The PSA also welcomed the policy.
“Pharmacists welcome Federal Labor’s election policy announcement… to not increase PBS co-payments above CPI or change safety net thresholds,” says PSA national president Joe Demarte.
“This policy will provide a boost to patient health as evidence shows when the price of medicines increases, consumers have to choose between medications and other household expenses.
“We know that this not only leads to poor consumer health outcomes but also increased health system costs over the longer term as consumer financial access to medicines is reduced.
“Access to pharmacist services may also be compromised if the Federal Government continually seeks to find savings in the PBS.
“As a result, PSA has sought clarification over Health Minister Sussan Ley’s previous statements that the Government does not intend to proceed with the co-payment and safety net threshold increases, despite their presence in the forward estimates.
“PSA supports the long-term sustainability of the PBS and as investment in medicine is an important cost-saving measure, which helps to save lives by reducing the impact of chronic disease for Australians every day.
“A long-term plan for financial sustainability of the PBS must also include investment in evidence-based pharmacist services to ensure the impact of medicine is maximised and health outcomes are achieved.
“Affordable medicines is one piece of the puzzle, but we need to ensure optimal use of that medicine through evidence-based pharmacist care.”