Labor’s PBS changes risks unintended consequences to regional Australia

03 May 2023

Regional Australians could be the hardest hit by the Labor government’s planned changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) through unintended consequences, according to The Nationals leader David Littleproud.

Ahead of next month’s Budget, the federal Labor government plans to double the amount of medicines Australians can purchase, by allowing 60-day dispensing.

However, experts have warned the move, which is being described as one of the biggest shake-ups the PBS has faced, could create significant medicine shortages and delays.

Mr Littleproud said regional, rural and remote Australians risked being impacted by the changes, which come into effect on July 1.

“This is an example of the Labor government’s failure to understand the essential needs of every day regional Australians and the unintended consequences of Budget cuts to the PBS,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Thousands of Australians who need medications could suffer as a consequence, because doubling scripts for some might mean others miss out. Labor has not thought through the ramifications for regional, rural and remote Australia and risks community pharmacies struggling to stock the medicine required.

“People in regional areas are already experiencing challenges in accessing medical support, but this decision stands to make those challenges even more difficult. My fear is that Labor might not realise the long-term impact and is once again neglecting the needs of regional Australia.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Regional Health Dr Anne Webster said she had been contacted by many regional pharmacies, including in her own electorate in Horsham, Ouyen and Cohuna, who were extremely anxious about the changes and the risk to their sustainability.

“This is another example of the Labor Government having no idea of the challenges facing regional communities,” Dr Webster said.

“When will Labor learn urban-centric policy threatens the very viability of our small towns? Without GPs and pharmacies, towns will struggle to survive.”

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