The ALP plans to scrap the Coalition’s controversial plan to increase PBS prices if elected on 2 July.
The move, flagged in the 2014 Abbott/Hockey budget, has been stalled in the Senate due to ALP and cross bench opposition, but the government has still included the planned $1.3 billion savings in its latest budget.
Now Labor says it will scrap the measure altogether, Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten said last weekend.
Health spokesperson Catherine King said “Labor believes every Australian deserves access to affordable medicine.
For more than two years we have been fighting the Liberal Government’s unfair plan to drive up the cost of medicines and take this country down the path of the American health system.
We confirm that a Shorten Labor Government will scrap the Liberals’ medicines price hike and ensure healthcare remains affordable for every Australian”.
The $1.3 billion savings are factored into the 2016 Budget’s costings and remain on the table, as far the government is concerned.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “the Government remains committed to delivering savings allocated to the measure, but is still assessing alternate policies.”
“In his horror 2014 Budget, Tony Abbott announced $1.3 billion in cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), to be achieved by increasing co-payments and safety net thresholds,” King said.
This would increase patient co-payments by $5 for general patients and by $0.80 for concessional patients”.
“The Liberals also plan to increase the PBS safety net thresholds each year for four years. This would see the general safety net thresholds increase by 10 per cent a year, and the concessional safety nets rise by the cost of two prescriptions a year,” she said.
“Malcolm Turnbull confirmed his commitment to these cuts by building them into his first budget earlier this month. They would come on top of the existing annual indexation of co payments and safety net thresholds in line with the Consumer Price Index”.