Minister Roxon was interviewed on AM today.
The full transcript is here:
I almost choked on the Wheaties when I heard this.
Health Minister defends PBS changes
NICOLA ROXON: In a period where we are very carefully watching the expenditure of every dollar in health as well as in every other portfolio, I have made a decision that taking to Cabinet all listings that have a financial consequence would be the best way to deal with the range of matters.
And then later this:
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Nicola Roxon is appealing to people waiting for drugs to be subsidised to understand the Government's position.
NICOLA ROXON: All I can ask patients to consider is that there are a range of other health needs that both they and other members of the community need in addition to access to medicines and our government is responsible for providing those as well and we need to be able to balance which is the most important priority at any particular time.
There is another report of the same conversation here:
Roxon says PBS listing never automatic
April 29, 2011 - 8:14AM
Health Minister Nicola Roxon says expensive drugs have never been automatically listed for subsidy and they can't be now when the government is carefully watching every dollar it spends.
She says federal Labor has to balance competing priorities in health and every other department.
The government in February deferred the listing of seven medicines, including treatments for schizophrenia, chronic pain, lung disease and blood clots, for government subsidy through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
That was contrary to a recommendation of the expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
Groups including Medicines Australia, the Consumers Health Forum and the Australian Medical Association will meet Ms Roxon on Friday in Melbourne to press for the government to reverse its position.
The PBAC this week recommended a further seven new drugs for PBS listing.
But the health minister says cabinet will consider any recommendation with a financial consequence.
The PBAC is a committee made up of a very diligent collection of very smart health practitioners and economists who have processes and procedures that have served us well for 50 years or so. Only drugs that will actually help patients and are reasonably cost effective get recommened.
Now we get politicians involved for extra expenditure of a few million here and there on some drugs which can make a real difference for some patients while we have rampant, ill-considered waste and stupidity with the current e-Health plans and even more stupidity suggesting the sky will fall in if we maintain our public services properly and take just one more year to get the budget back into surplus.
I really wonder just what is going on here. If we are rich enough to do this mad cap e-health program we are plenty rich enough to provide the best medicines for those that need them. It does not make a heap of sense to me.