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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 3414

Mr Hayden asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   What was the cost to the Commonwealth of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in each of the last 10 years.

(2)   What was the (a) increased cost and (b) increased cost expressed as a percentage in each year compared with the preceding year.

(3)   Of the increased cost in each year, what was the (a) amount and (b) percentage due to (i) increased population, (ii) new items added to the Scheme, (iii) relaxation of prescribing arrangements and (iv) any abnormal seasonal additional costs such as upsurge in winter compounding.

(4)   What was the Commonwealth expenditure in each year when the cost of items mentioned in part (3) of the question is subtracted from the total in part (1).

(5)   What was the (a) increased amount and (b) percentage increase in Commonwealth expenditure in each year when the subtraction in part (4) is carried out, using as the base the amount of Commonwealth expenditure for the preceding year as detailed in part (2) of the question.

Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The cost to the Commonwealth of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in each of the last ten years was -


(3),(4) and (5) Information sought in (3), (4) and (5) of the question is not available in the form requested for the following reasons:

(a)   The cost of benefit drugs provided through public hospitals and miscellaneous services is re-imbursed to the appropriate authorities on a basis which does not require a record to be kept of the costs of separate drugs or prescription volume. It is therefore not practicable, to assess increased cost, in each year due to (i) increased population (ii) new items added to the scheme and (iii) relaxation of prescribing arrangements under this section of Commonwealth expenditure.

(b)   Changes in the schedules of benefits, including the addition of new items and relaxation of prescribing arrangements, are introduced at varying stages during each financial year. The effect of such changes, in the year of introduction is therefore not a true reflection of the overall impact on costs. Records of changes in the schedule of benefits have been maintained on a total cost basis, including the patient contribution and not on a basis of Commonwealth expenditure.

(c)   Changes in the schedule of benefits necessary to provide a service aligned with modern developments in the field of medicine have made it impracticable to assess separately, with an acceptable degree of accuracy, the effect of heavy prescribing, arising from abnormally severe seasonal conditions.

Although records are not available which would enable provision of answers in the precise form requested, the following tables contain closely related information. The tables cover prescription benefits supplied by approved pharmacies, doctors and private hospitals and do not include benefits provided in public hospitals and through miscellaneous services.



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