Prime Minister Scott Morrison has just announced an election promise to reduce the cost of medications listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Speaking to the media in Launceston on Saturday morning, Morrison revealed that common prescription medicines – such as asthma preventers and many contraceptive pills – will be $10 cheaper per script from January 1 if the Coalition is re-elected.
“There are many things you can’t control – you can’t control the war in Europe, you can’t control natural disasters, you can’t control whether there’s a pandemic or not, and all of these things are impacting on the prices Australians are paying every day,” he told reporters in Tasmania.
“But what you can do is what we’re doing: you can provide that relief … you can make the safety net more generous to help people who are on these medications, and you can reduce the non-concessional payment down by $10 on every single script.”
Today’s election promise was mistakenly revealed ahead of the federal budget in March, with the office of Financial Services Minister Jane Hume later asking Hansard staff to delete references to the planned medication price cut after it was referred to in Parliament.
Morrison defended the decision not to fund the measure in the 2022 federal budget, saying it was a “longer-term measure” that needed to be announced during the election campaign because Australians “need to know what we plan to do”.
The change is expected to cost $155 million a year, taking the maximum cost of scripts for PBS-listed medicines down to $32.50. Labor is yet to announce a policy around prescription medicines or the PBS.