Healthcare budget cuts expected

HEALTH economists have predicted heavy cuts to the PBS and MBS in next month’s federal budget as Prime Minister Julia Gillard again restated her government’s promise to deliver a budget surplus by 2013.

The warnings follow the announcement of a number of measures designed to add more scrutiny to health spending. These have included the recent crackdown on the much maligned Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS), the deferral of PBS-listing for a number of drugs and the Government’s negotiations with the pathology industry to find further savings. 

The CDDS has been a Government target since revelations that the scheme, widely misused by dentists, was costing the Government more than $63 million per month.

Robert Wells, director of ANU’s Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, said if the Government did not scrap the CDDS, a move that would require the support of both houses, the scheme was likely to at least be