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Notice given 2 December 2002

Senator Nettle: To move—

(1) That the following matters be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 18 September 2003:

(a) the financial sustainability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), including the assumptions of forward estimates of the cost of the PBS to the Commonwealth Government;

(b) the social and economic implications of increasing the co-payment for PBS-listed medicines, including the long-term implications for the health of Australians;

(c) whether the cost of the PBS to the Commonwealth Government provides value for money to the Australian community in terms of health outcomes;

(d) alternative means of funding the PBS, including:

(i) abolishing the Private Health Insurance Incentive Scheme and using the budget savings to fund the PBS,

(ii) a less regressive direct payment system taking into account ability to pay, and

(iii) abolishing the co-payment and replacing it with an increase in the Medicare levy;

(e) ways to map the prescribing habits of doctors and possible strategies to improve the quality of prescribing;

(f) the transparency of the PBS listing process, including the cost-benefit analysis that is conducted for drugs proposed for listing;

(g) whether the Commonwealth Government is making the best use of price-volume agreements to obtain the best value for money;

(h) the extent of leakage and means to eliminate it;

(i) whether voluntary controls on industry marketing practices are adequate or should be replaced with legislative controls;

(j) pharmaceutical industry practices that undermine the PBS and possible measures to eliminate or constrain these practices;

(k) cost shifting of pharmaceutical expenses from the states to the Commonwealth and ways to improve co-operation between the jusridictions; and

(l) implications of any agreements that seek to link trade restriction practices to the operation of the PBS.

(2) That in conducting this inquiry, the committee is to invite public submissions and to conduct public hearings in all capital cities.