2022 Federal Budget: Cheaper Drugs on PBS, Medicare Support

Millions of Australians will see the cost of their prescriptions drop from January as the budget seeks to ease pressure on the cost of living through access to cheaper medicines.

treasurer Jim Chalmers first budget Issued on Tuesday, the maximum total co-payment for Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme scenarios will be reduced from $42.50 to $30, saving up to $12.50 per scenario for 3.6 million Australians.

An investment of nearly $200 million means that a person taking two or three medications could save between $300 and $450 a year.

“ABS reports that the high cost of medicines has resulted in about a million Australians being delayed or not receiving their medicines in 2019-2020,” Health Minister Mark Butler said last month when announcing the change.

“We have to do more than that, and we will. Reducing their price by almost a third will mean that more people can afford the medicines they need to stay healthy without worrying too much about the price. This change will put about $200 million back into the pockets of Australians every year.”

The budget also provides $1.4 billion for new and revised PBS schedules, including treatment for various cancers and childhood growth hormone deficiency.

Meanwhile, a $3.6 billion Medicare upgrade will aim to set up 50 $235 million emergency clinics to ease the burden on the hospital system.

This includes $100 million to “jointly develop and pilot innovative models with states and territories to improve healthcare delivery and inform program rollout,” budget documents say.

“These clinics will ease the burden on hospital emergency departments and make it easier for Australian families to see a doctor or nurse when they need urgent but not life-threatening care.”

The government is also allocating $750 million to the Medicare Strengthening Fund to provide better patient access and care.

How exactly the money is spent will depend on the recommendations of the Strengthening Medicare Task Force, whose report is due by the end of 2022.

The budget also includes $452 million to support the establishment of world-class cancer centers in Brisbane and Adelaide.

“This budget is investing another $6.1 billion in hospitals, in Medicare, in expanding COVID-19 support, and expanding access to health care in the suburbs and regions of our country,” said Dr. Chalmers in his speech.

Originally published as Federal budget 2022: millions to reduce the cost of medicines from January 1