House debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Questions without Notice

Health Care

2:44 pm

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Corangamite, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on action taken by the government to guarantee Medicare and reduce the cost of medicines? How is the government guaranteeing the essential health services on which Australians rely?

2:45 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Corangamite, who, along with all of the members on our side of the House, is committed not just to guaranteeing Medicare but also to delivering better access and lower prices for medicines, as opposed to all of the members on that side who are committed to taking the long handle to private health insurance. Labor hates private health insurance. We love private health insurance, and we are guaranteeing Medicare. We are guaranteeing Medicare by law and under law. Medicare, under our proposal—the Prime Minister's proposal and the Treasurer's proposal—for a Medicare fund, will have the first call on the budget. That is the primacy we give it. That is its guarantee. That is its place under law.

More than that though, we have struck agreements, as I mentioned earlier, with five fundamental bodies within Australia: the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the AMA, Medicines Australia, the Pharmacy Guild and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association. Those agreements allow us to make real reform, which, in turn, allows for real investment. Those partnerships mean that we will invest $1 billion in ending Labor's freeze on indexation under Medicare. They started it. We will end it. More than that, we will make a $2.4 billion overall investment in Medicare and a major investment in bulk-billing. We will invest in re-indexation, and, in particular, we will be supporting bulk-billing as well.

We will be supporting cheaper medicines and better access to medicines. As was set out last night, we have secured an agreement with Medicines Australia which will deliver major savings in relation to the cost paid by the Commonwealth for medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Those savings will be reinvested in a $2.2 billion commitment under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. As an example of that, and as an act of good faith, what we are doing is immediately listing Entresto. Entresto is a drug for chronic heart failure. 60,000 Australians will benefit from this listing. Previously, it would have cost $2,000 for Entresto, which was way beyond the reach of many Australians with chronic heart conditions. Now they will be able to receive this for $6.30 or $38.80 a script—a dramatic change in their lives either giving affordable access or first-time access to medicines for 60,000 Australians.

We are reducing the price of medicines. We are increasing access to medicines. We are guaranteeing Medicare and we are ending Labor's freeze on indexation. As I said before, the real 'medifriends' are on this side; the real 'medifrauds' are on that side.