Ley backs away from safety net, copay increase

Sussan Ley

Health Minister Sussan Ley has backed away from the proposed increase to the safety net threshold, saying the legislation is unlikely to be passed.

“That measure is not going to pass the Parliament,” she told reporters today.

“I have had conversations with the cross-bench, and they have indicated they are not going to support it. So I am looking at ways that we will maintain our fiscally responsible approach.”

When asked whether the Government had deferred raising the threshold or scrapped it altogether, Minister Ley said the measure is “sitting there”.

“I will pay attention to it in due course, with a view to realising the savings that we in the health portfolio need to make, but certainly not pushing ahead with measures that we know are not supported by our colleagues in the Parliament,” she says.

The proposed increase to the threshold and the increase of patient copayments for PBS-subsidised scripts, by 80c for concessional patients and $5 for general patients, were introduced in the 2014-5 Budget, but not passed.

The Pharmacy Guild and Consumer Health Forum welcomed the comments.

“The Guild is supportive of affordable medicines for Australians, because we know cost can be a barrier,” says Anthony Tassone, Victorian Guild President.

“We are strong believers in the PBS, and one of its fundamental principles is that consumers get the same fair deal, no matter where they are, and have equity of access to vital medicines.”

The CEO of Consumer Health Forum,  Leanne Wells, said “We welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement  that the PBS co-payment rise proposed in last year’s Budget  will not pass the Senate.

“However it is concerning that the Minister is suggesting the money will still have to be made up for from savings elsewhere in the Health budget, given cuts already made to health.”

Ley also highlighted the 652 new and amended listings on the PBS since the Abbott Government was elected in September 2013, totalling $2.9 billion.

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