More co-payments to be 'sneaked in' for prescription drugs

03 March, 2015

The report of the health impact statement on the effects of the Transpacific Partnership currently being negotiated by the Federal Government with the US indicates there is a high chance this Government will manage to introduce higher co-payments for prescription drugs by stealth.

That is the view of Dr Tim Woodruff , Vice President, Doctors Reform Society.

"Leaked documents from the secret negotiations indicate that the US wants rules introduced which will mean that even if future Australian Governments don't agree with pricing policies for prescription drugs, they will not be able to do anything about it," Woodruff asserted in a written statement (3 March).

The Government came to its last budget keen to reduce patients' use of prescription drugs by increasing the drug co-payment but the Senate rejected the increase. This trade agreement however, will have the same impact on patients. It will send an even bigger price signal than already exists to working Australians that unless they can find more than $36 per prescription, they shouldn't have access to life-saving treatment.

"Repeated surveys indicate that about 20 per cent of sick Australians delay or don't fill prescriptions because of co-payments. This will only get worse.

"We are told by Trade Minister Robb that we should trust him to do the best for Australians despite the fact that the details of the agreement will not be made public until after the Government signs up to the agreement.

"Should we really trust a Government Minister not to force Australians to pay a bigger co-payment for prescriptions even though their policy in last year's budget was to do just that?"