A Shorten Labor Government will deliver the biggest cancer care package in Australian history, with a $2.3 billion investment to dramatically slash out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients.
This is the most important reform to Medicare since it was introduced by Bob Hawke.
This will mean millions of free scans, millions of free consultations and cheaper medicines for cancer patients.
One in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. Cancer is the greatest disease burden in Australia, and it carries the greatest out-of-pocket costs in our healthcare system.
Nearly half of Australian cancer patients pay more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs over the course of their diagnosis and treatment. More than a quarter of cancer patients pay more than $10,000 out of their own pocket.
Labor believes it should be your Medicare card, not your credit card, which guarantees access to quality health care in Australia.
Labor’s Medicare Cancer Plan includes:
1. Investing $600 million towards eliminating all out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic imaging, with up to six million free cancer scans funded through Medicare: this will include the biggest ever expansion of Medicare MRI eligibility, making sure every MRI machine can provide Medicare rebates, as well as boosting Medicare rebates and creating new Medicare items to drive down out-of-pocket costs for x-rays, ultrasounds, mammograms, CT scans and PET scans.
2. Investing $433 million to fund three million free consultations with oncologists and surgeons for cancer patients: Labor will introduce a new bulk-billed Medicare item to wipe out of pocket costs for three million consultations with medical and radiation oncologists, as well as surgeons. These visits would otherwise attract high out-of-pocket costs, with out-of-pocket costs for specialist visits up 40 per cent since the Liberals were elected in 2013.
3. Guarantee that every drug recommended by independent experts will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, cutting out-of-pockets costs for cancer medications: If the experts recommend a drug is publicly subsidised, it will be, ending any uncertainty about whether a drug is listed and making sure that these decisions are above politics. This should reassure all Australians battling cancer – or other life threatening or chronic conditions – that they will have affordable access to the medicines they need.
If you need to see a specialist, the Medicare Cancer Plan will cover an additional 2,000 appointments a day – three million specialist consults with no out-of-pocket costs.
If you need a cancer scan – every MRI machine, in every postcode, will be eligible for Medicare.
If you need a CT scan, an X-Ray, a mammogram, a PET scan – this plan will cut the out-of-pocket costs and provide up to six million free scans and tests.
Today’s announcements are just the beginning. Labor will have more to say about how our Medicare Cancer Plan will improve the care of Australians battling cancer and cut their out-of-pocket costs.
Every Australian deserves quality health care when and where they need it – your bank balance or your postcode should not be barriers to whether you get access to the health care.
Unfortunately under the Liberals’ savage cuts to Medicare, out-of-pocket costs have increased across the board for GP consultations, specialist consultations and critical cancer procedures.
Scott Morrison has cut $3 billion from the pockets of patients with his Medicare freeze and $715 million from public hospitals – locking in further cuts until 2025.
Labor will reverse the Liberals’ cuts to health, address rising out-of-pocket costs, fund the best cancer care and provide the support Australians need during one of the toughest periods in their lives.
We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.
Labor introduced Medicare, and we will always protect it.