POLITICS

Health Policy In The Spotlight As Election Campaign Enters Week 3

Labor and the coalition have both made health announcements on Sunday.

22/05/2016 10:34 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Health Minister Sussan Ley has boosted funding for cancer treatment trials.

Health policy has emerged as a key battleground as the election campaign enters its third week, with both Labor and the coalition unveiling announcements in the sector on Sunday.

On the Liberal side, Health Minister Sussan Ley said more young Australians battling cancer would be able to take part in potentially life-saving drugs trials under a $7 million coalition scheme.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Bill Shorten pledged not to increase the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) copayments beyond regular indexation, saying he opposed Liberal attacks on Medicare.

Ley announced the coalition's cancer trial program in Melbourne, saying the plan would help adolescents with rare cancers to access clinical trials more easily.

The government said about 800 young Aussies could benefit from the extra funding, the ABC reports.

Ley told reporters that the government's new cancer trial scheme was crucial for young people to take part in possible breakthrough treatments.

"This funding is critically important to leverage the big pharmaceutical companies into providing new cutting-edge therapies for young people with cancer," she said.

"This not only has the benefit of improving outcomes, but helps with side-effects in the long-term. In short, this is a fantastic initiative that will improve the outcome and survival of young people with cancer."

She said the coalition would continue to make tough decisions when it came to listing of medicines on the PBS.

The government scheme will also change age restriction rules to allow more teenagers and young adults to participate in trials.

In Sydney, Shorten vowed to scrap moves by the government that he said would see the cost of a visit to the GP increase.

Shorten's promise would reportedly cost the federal budget $971 million over the next 4 years. Labor says that amount will be made up by not cutting company tax rates like the coalition plans to do.

"The Labor Party is committed to the view in division that sick people should not be deterred from going to the doctor because of the price of seeing the GP or the cost of medicine," Shorten said.

"Our policy that we have announced this week is about preserving Medicare and keeping down the price of medicine and prescription drugs.

"I am presently really pleased with the difference this will make to patients who are relying on these drugs."

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