Prescription drug prices will be reduced in a new cost-of-living measure by the federal government.
Australians’ co-payment for scripts under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be capped at $30, as opposed to the current maximum co-payment of $42.50.
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That will save people who have many regular medications hundreds of dollars each year and help prevent them from deciding to spend their money on medicines or other essentials, the government says.
However, the measure will not come into effect until January 1, with the Albanian government presenting the bill in parliament on Wednesday.
Health Minister Mark Butler said almost a million Australians were delaying or avoiding filling prescriptions, citing recent research.
“Cutting their price by almost a third will mean more people can afford to get the medications they need to stay healthy, without worrying so much about the price,” he said.
“This change will put close to $200 million back into the pockets of Australians every year.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has conceded that there will be difficult decisions in the October budget, despite the inflation crisis.
As inflation and interest rates continue to rise, the government has signaled that it would be looking to boost spending due to the Commonwealth’s large debt levels.
The prime minister said he aimed to be ahead of possible cost-cutting measures in the federal budget.
“We inherited $1 trillion of Liberal Party debt. When interest rates go up, so do the costs of repaying that Liberal Party debt,” he told a news conference in Canberra on Wednesday.
“What that means is that we can’t do everything we want to do.”
Interest rate pain
It comes as the Reserve Bank on Tuesday raised the official interest rate for the fifth consecutive month.
The cash rate is now at 2.35 percent, up from a record low of 0.1 percent earlier this year.
The government is under pressure to maintain a cut in fuel excise duty, which expires at the end of the month.
The end of the fuel excise cut will increase petrol prices by around 25 cents per litre.
Albanese said that the cost of living would be a focus of the budget.
“We went through line by line, looking for the waste that was there from the former government, looking for their generosity and these funds (used) only for political purposes and not for the national interest,” he said.
“All the commitments of the former government are under review.”
– With AAP
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