In a first for NSW, a re-elected Baird Government will abolish all public patient co‑payments for the Highly Specialised Drugs needed to treat cancer and other chronic illnesses.
NSW Premier Mike Baird said tens of thousands of patients will benefit from the $76 million commitment, which will be implemented in the next term of the Baird Government if it is re-elected on March 28.
The removal of the co-payment will benefit patients living with cancer, as well as conditions such as HIV, hepatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis, severe allergic asthma and rare diseases, particularly those affecting children, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
“Patients are at the very heart of our decision-making in health and this commitment will ease the financial burden on every family fighting cancer and other serious, chronic illnesses,” Mr Baird said.
“I doubt there is a family in NSW that is unaffected by cancer or other chronic illnesses. Whether it is a parent, a loved one, a friend or neighbour, we all know someone who is in the fight of their life and in need of support.
“As a government, we want to offer a helping hand to assist these patients and ensure their focus is primarily on recovery and wellness, not dollars and cents.
“The Baird Government has developed a compassionate and inclusive plan to provide better, more comprehensive support for tens of thousands of the state’s patients.”
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said it will be the first time in NSW patients will be spared a co-payment on drugs vital to their wellbeing.
“This is a common sense, compassionate policy which will provide invaluable support to patients and their loved ones,” Mrs Skinner said.
“There will be no out of pocket expense for public patients no matter where they fill their prescription. We are determined to bring relief to those who face ongoing costs while living with cancer and chronic illnesses,” Mrs Skinner said.
Currently, patients needing highly specialised drugs are required to pay $37.70 per script or $6.10 if they are concessional patients – and this includes script repeats. These Highly Specialised Drugs – classified as s100 HSD under the Commonwealth’s National Health Act – have been traditionally available in hospital pharmacies only. Recently, some community pharmacies have been permitted to dispense these drugs.
The Baird Government will remove the co-payment for all patients treated by public hospitals, including public non-admitted patients, outpatients or day patients, inpatients on discharge and privately-referred, non-admitted patients treated in public hospitals. The reform will cover patients who fill their prescriptions through hospital pharmacies or community pharmacies.
The NSW Ministry of Health will work through the administrative details with key stakeholders to provide for the removal of the co-payment early in the next term of the Baird Government.