Sit back and wait is not an option for the PBS
It would be irresponsible for the Federal Government to sit back and not tackle the unsustainable growth in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.
17 June 2002
Sit back and wait is not an option for the PBSIt would be irresponsible for the Federal Government to sit back and not tackle the unsustainable growth in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.
The Government would abdicate its responsibility if it waited for several years - as suggested by the Democrats - to put the PBS on a sustainable footing to ensure its viability over the longer term.
Senator Patterson rejected claims by the Australian Democrats health spokesperson, Meg Lees, who advocated no action for two or three years.
"Sitting back and waiting for two or three years could be too late. The scheme has grown by $1.5 billion over the past two years. It just cannot keep growing at the rate of 14% every year if we are going to provide affordable access to PBS medicines to Australians," she said.
"Doing nothing now will just make it harder in a couple of years when we are forced to act.
"The fact is we must act now. Sitting on our hands to see what might happen two or three years up the track is irresponsible.
"If we are going to have access to the new generation of potentially life-saving medicines - some of which will costs tens of thousands of dollars per person per year - we must act now to ensure that our system of world-class subsidised medicines can be sustained into the future.
"If we don't, the PBS will not be able to protect the vulnerable in the future."
Senator Patterson acknowledged Senator Lees' acceptance of Government measures to ensure the quality use of medicines.
However, accepting some parts of the Government's package to secure the future of the PBS and rejecting others, such as the rises in co-payments, would not work because cherry-picking would undermine the success of the whole package.
Media Contact: Randal Markey, Media Adviser, 0417 694 520