A $7 fee for patients to visit their GP and increased copayments for medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme are just some of the Budget policies that will impact people living with HIV.
Under the changes, scripts will increase by $5 up to $42.70 for general patients; and by 80c for those with concession cards – taking the cost to $6.90. Members of the HIV sector voiced concern over the changes, saying they would hit patients with chronic illnesses the hardest. There are also fears the GP fee will deter people testing for HIV.
Health Minister Peter Dutton said the measures were engineered to ensure Medicare’s long-term sustainability and to
combat a shortfall in funding. Critics of the changes — which come into effect next year — said they spelled the end of free healthcare in Australia and would lead to a two-tiered health system.
Meanwhile, changes to welfare will see under-35s on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) have their ability to work
reassessed by government-appointed doctors. Such a move could see thousands of people on the DSP forced to take part in compulsory work programs — or face penalties.