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Where are the facts?

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Media Release


Ms Trish Worth


TW 16/97

Tuesday, 28th April 1998




The Member for Adelaide and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services, Trish Worth, has again challenged the ALP Candidate for Adelaide to present the facts to support her assertions about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, nursing home fees and dental health.


"Whenever the ALP's Candidate for Adelaide makes false and misleading claims about things like prescription drugs, I challenge her to present me with the evidence to support her allegations but she never does," says Ms. Worth. "The reason is that her claims don't stand up to scrutiny and, what's worse, she's scaring the most vulnerable members of our community."


"It is grossly unfair to mislead members of the community over something as important as their health," Ms. Worth says. "Those who hold or seek public office should not prey on people in this way just because they want to score cheap political points."


Ms. Worth's latest challenge was issued following false claims that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has been cut back.


Between July 1996 and June 1997 the Government spent more than $2,500 million on medicines which was 9% more than the year before.


A change was made to the PBS on 1st February 1998 which affected the cost of some medicines used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, high blood cholesterol, peptic ulcers and oesophageal reflux. The change ensures the best use of taxpayers' money. It means that the Government will no longer pay more for some medicines when others are just as effective for most people. However, for a very small number of people who, for good medical reasons, cannot change to another drug there is an exemption system in place to ensure they don't pay any extra. These arrangements ensure that no-one need pay one cent more for their medicines.


Under the PBS patients generally pay no more than $3.20 for most prescription medicines if they have a concession card. If not, they generally pay no more than $20.


The cost of the PBS will continue to grow by $200 million per year. So just where are these so called cuts?


The ALP's Candidate for Adelaide also wrongly asserts that the Commonwealth Dental Health Program was one of the first things to be cut under the Howard Government.


Wrong again.


This Program was announced in the dying days of the 1993 election campaign by the then Prime Minister, Paul Keating, as a 4 year Program. Six months early, when the number of claimed or promised cases had been treated, the Howard Government fulfilled the original promise.


The Commonwealth Dental Health Program was not scrapped, it had simply achieved what it set out to do.


The 4 years expired in 1996, the $247 million allocated was spent and the target of 1.5 million people was met.


Finally, the ALP Candidate for Adelaide's assertions about nursing home fees are simply not supported by the facts.


Much has been said about the income tested fees. These fees are, in fact, significantly less than those charged by most church and charitable hostel providers before the changes. In hostels, before 1st October 1997 for income above the pension a nursing home could charge 50 cents of each $1. The new arrangements fix the amount at 25 cents of each $1 for any income above the pension plus $50. The old system could charge $50 of $100 income above the pension - the new system will charge $12.50.


Importantly, most of the changes to residential aged care were asked for by providers, consumers and relatives.


As Terry Healey, Chief Executive Officer of Eldercare says in the New Times (the newspaper of the Uniting Church in S.A.):


"For the last year there have been almost daily articles in the press and electronic media abut the dreadful outcomes f rom the changes in aged care. Unfortunately, many of the articles have been only partly accurate and have consequently caused great concern...The confusion has been helped by some politicians and others who have sought to achieve some gain by generating concerns in the elderly."





Residential Care

$2419 million

$2767 million


Home and Community Care

$423 million

$476 million



$2842 million

$3243 million



Ms. Worth says anyone wanting to know mo re about pharmaceutical benefits, dental health or residential aged care is welcome to contact her office and up-to-date information will be provided.


Media contact:

Lisa Brett on 8223 1130 or 0411 261 336