PBS key to realising savings in hospital spending

Medicines Australia Chairman Will Delaat today urged the Government not to reduce funding for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in the 2009 Federal Budget. Mr Delaat said such a move would result in higher costs elsewhere in the healthcare system.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Mr Delaat said any cut to PBS spending would impact negatively on patient health outcomes. He said reducing the PBS as a short-term cost-saving measure would be a false economy.

“To quote the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, ‘The point we often miss with the PBS is that we are saving money by often spending money on medications,’” Mr Delaat said.

“The PBS delivers those savings because innovative medicines can prevent the need for care at public hospitals, shorten stays in hospitals where they are required and relieve the costs of other institutional care.

“In short, appropriately used medicines help people stay out of hospitals and lead longer, better, more productive lives.”

Mr Delaat said the PBS had to be treated as an investment that offsets the cost of chronic disease.

“Clearly Australia is not immune from the impacts of the current financial uncertainty, and the Federal Government faces some tough calls as we navigate our way through this challenge,” Mr Delaat said.

“But it would make no economic sense for the Government to seek short-term savings by cutting the PBS.

“It would be a false economy to cut a Federal health program that delivers a net saving to the state health system.

“Any cut to the PBS would translate directly to an increase in state healthcare expenditure at the very time when state governments are struggling to adequately fund public hospitals.”

Mr Delaat also pointed to PBS reforms introduced last year, through which the pharmaceutical industry will contribute $580 million in savings to the Government over the next four years, and $3 billion over the next 10 years.


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