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BCNA News 10 Apr 2019

Reducing financial toxicity in health care emerges as key issue for 2019 Federal Election

Over the past weeks Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) has welcomed announcements made by the Federal Coalition Government and the Labor Opposition ahead of the federal election being held on Saturday 18 May. Below is a list of those policies that will directly impact women and men living with breast cancer. We will keep this page updated during the campaign.

Both the Government and the Opposition have publicly acknowledged that BCNA’s The Financial Impact of Breast Cancer report (2017) and State of the Nation Report (2018) helped to inform their health policy decisions.

Coalition announcements

  • $3 million for diagnostic mammography in Tasmania
    • Two additional diagnostic mammography units, one in Hobart and one in Launceston
  • New online portal to provide greater transparency on the costs of specialist services
    • Specialists' fees will be published to allow patients and GPs to consider costs when determining their choice of specialists
  • $32.6 million for breast MRI scans and PET scans from 1 November 2019
    • The Medicare rebate for breast MRI scans will be expanded to allow people requiring a breast MRI as part of their diagnostic scans, pre-surgical work-up or follow-up care to claim a Medicare rebate
    • The Medicare rebate for PET scans will be extended to Australians with metastatic, or suspected metastatic, breast cancer to help stage the cancer and to help monitor whether treatments are working
    • These initiatives were included in the 2019-20 Federal Budget and come into effect from 1 November 2019
  • Second CDK inhibitor to be listed on the PBS from 1 May 2019
    • Palbociclib (Ibrance) will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as first line treatment for people newly diagnosed with metastatic hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative breast cancer from 1 May 2019
    • This follows the listing on 1 July 2018 of the CDK inhibitor ribociclib (Kisqali)
  • $45.5 million for new radiation treatment centres in regional Australia

ALP announcements

  • $10 million to embed informed financial consent into the health system to reduce the shock of unexpected medical costs ('bill shock')
  • $26 million for clinical trials
  • $47 million for breast MRI scans
    • The Medicare rebate for breast MRI scans will be expanded to allow people requiring a breast MRI as part of their diagnostic scans, pre-surgical work-up or follow-up care to be eligible for a Medicare rebate
  • $2.3 billion Medicare Cancer Plan
    • reducing costs for people with cancer from the moment they are diagnosed by increasing the number of bulk-billed imaging services and specialist appointments
    • funding for BCNA’s metastatic counselling service including the employment of an additional metastatic nurse to our Helpline
    • an additional 24 metastatic cancer nurses in regional and rural areas to help women and men living with all types of metastatic cancer to deal with this difficult diagnosis, get the support they need to navigate our complex health system and manage the challenges of living with a terminal illness
    • reducing waiting times for cancer surgery, including breast reconstruction surgery, in public hospitals
    • new radiation treatment centre in Moruya (NSW)