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Democrats want more action before agreeing to PBS changes

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Senator Meg Lees

Australian Democrats Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson

Embargo: 6am, 14 May, 1997


AGREEING TO PBS CHANGES THE Australian Democrats will continue to push for a full review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, saying Budget reforms outlined last night could go a lot further.

Democrats Health Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees said the Democrats were sympathetic to the intention behind the Premium Price Strategy and the delisting of some drugs from the PBS, but they would need to look more closely at the detail of the proposals.

' We have a long history of opposing PBS 'reform' measures which impact upon disabled and chronically ill Australians and we have repeatedly said that significant long-term savings in the PBS can be found through other means," Senator Lees said.

"We are pleased with the Budget announcement of a National Prescriber Service -that is a long overdue recognition that the supply side of the PBS is in need of reform."

Senator Lees said she would seek further discussions with the Health Minister on the issue and she believed the Government could be doing more.

"For a start, the Government needs to look at the extent to which the States are shifting hospital pharmaceutical costs onto the Commonwealth," she said. "The Minister also needs to sort out glaring problems such as doctor shopping for multiple scripts. We need to quantify those costs and look at all the issues before we start talking about 'blow-outs' in the PBS."

The Democrats will continue to push for a full review of the PBS and for a Nationa Summit on the PBS later in the year.

Senator Lees will discuss Health Budget details in the Democrats' party room before setting out a formal response.

To arrange comment contact Kelly Westell on (06) 277 3765 or phone Senator Lees on 0418 804 505.


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