Labor hopeful: Poorest to be hit hardest by PBS changes

Labor candidate for Dawson Frank Gilbert speaks with Red Apple Chemist pharmicist Peter Ford about the health system and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Labor candidate for Dawson Frank Gilbert speaks with Red Apple Chemist pharmicist Peter Ford about the health system and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Luke Mortimer

WOULD you be happy to pay more for prescription medicines and doctor visits to save taxpayer dollars?

Frank Gilbert, Labor candidate for Dawson, has met with pharmacists and other medical professionals in the electorate to outline the party's $971 million promise to drop cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) if elected.

The Abbott (now Turnbull) government's 2014 budget included a proposal for Australians to pay $5 more for each PBS subscription - 80c more for concession card holders - which would save taxpayer's $1.3 billion per year.

But it was blocked in the Upper House, with Labor, and in this particular case candidate Mr Gilbert saying it will lead to the country heading "down the same path as America when it comes to our health system".

"All Australians should be able to access health care when and where they need it. That's what drives Labor's health policy," he said.

Meanwhile, the Coalition will go to the election with a budget plan to extend a freeze on Medicare rebate indexation - saving another $1 billion.

But Mr Gilbert was adamant the savings were just not worth it.

"Everyone will pay more and the sickest, the poorest and those in rural areas will be hit hardest," he said.

"President of the Australian Medical Association Professor Brian Owler estimates that this will likely cost patients up to $20 more for each GP visit.

"One in 20 Australians already say they delay visiting their GP, or do not visit at all, because of cost," Mr Gilbert added.

"Labor's policy has been costed independently by the Parliamentary Budget Office and will have an impact of $2.4 billion over the forward estimates (to 2019-20), and $12.2 billion over the decade to 2026-27.

"Labor will fund this policy through announced improvements to the Budget, including not proceeding with the new baby bonus, capping VET FEE HELP loans, and not proceeding with the tax cut for multinational companies."

Peter Ford, a pharmacist at Red Apple Chemist in Mackay, reckoned the majority of people who dropped in to fill a prescription with him were older residents using concession cards.

"Pensioners will struggle, I think, if they need to pay more for the medicines they need," he said.

"Some of the medications could cost $3-400 dollars, which they get for a relatively low price, right now.

"As it is now, the system for rebates is pretty good. Obviously, for a pensioner I'd say it's pretty vital.

"For someone taking like 10 medicines a month, which happens, they'd pay an absolute fortune without the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme."

Mr Ford said he considered himself apolitical and emphasised he was not advocating for any particular party.

Topics:  federal election 2016 frank gilbert labor pharmaceutical benefits scheme

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Rhonda McLucas going coast to coast across the UK for a cure

ROCKY ROAD: Gatton Real Estate principal Rhonda McLucas undertook the West Highland Way walk in 2017.

Rhonda McLucas is taking on the Coast to Coast Walk for a cause.

Awarded for passion

DEDICATION RECOGNISED: Lockyer District State High teacher Belinda Try, centre, holds her Certificate of Commendation that she was presented at a ceremony in Brisbane.

Teacher's passion and leadership recognised

Fifth-generation Brimblecombe takes over the family farm

RUNNING THE SHOW: Forest Hill farmer Mitch Brimblecombe inspects a newly planted crop.

Forest Hill farmer Mitch Brimblecombe is running the family farm.

Local Partners