PBS figures show budget changes will rip $94M from region

Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird say patients in the region will be slugged twice by the Abbott Government’s GP Tax and PBS price hikes costing local families over $94 million over the next four years.

The Department of Health’s most recent figures reveal every patient across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands will be on average, $260 out of pocket as they are hit for every visit to a GP and every medicine they are prescribed.

“What these figures clearly show is that in areas like the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, where we have higher populations of low and middle income earners – will be paying more for access to basic healthcare”, said Stephen Jones.

“It’s a double whammy for local patients. They’re whacked when they go to see a doctor and then again when they need to fill their prescriptions. This does not even take into account the extra fees charged for basic services like x-rays, scans or blood tests.

“No wonder the Government’s own backbenchers are calling it a dangerous policy.

“The country does not save money when people don’t see their doctor because they can’t afford it. Instead of preventing or curing a sickness, it gets worse and people end up in hospital, which is the most expensive part of the health system.”

This is the fear of local health professionals like Director of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local, Dr Vicki McCartney who told the ABC last week that many local patients were already avoiding seeing their GP and getting vital tests for fear of paying the GP Tax. Sonic Healthcare has confirmed this trend is being seen nation-wide.

“This is a very concerning trend and one that will only get worse as families are forced to pay the $7 GP Tax every time they visit the GP, and pay another $5 for every medicine they are prescribed”, said Ms Bird.

“Stephen Jones and I are extremely concerned that the double hit of paying extra for the doctor, and extra for medicines will break the budgets of many struggling local families.

“We’re calling on Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis to stand up for her electorate –which will be one of the worst hit in the country by the GP Tax and PBS increases – and tell Tony Abbott to drop these ill-conceived health taxes.

“The GP Tax and hike to prescription medicines is bad for patients, bad for healthcare and bad for the economy. They must be scrapped.

“The Australian Medical Association and the majority of Senators, Premiers, Chief Ministers have said the health cuts are unsustainable and even Members of the Prime Minister’s own Government are telling the him to drop it.

“Ms Sudmalis must join the call. Local patients cannot afford to pay almost $95 million for this Prime Minister’s broken promises.” 

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