Women with breast cancer will get affordable access to life-saving medical scans under a Shorten Labor Government plan to drive down the cost of cancer treatment.
If elected, Labor will invest an extra $47 million in Medicare to subsidise breast cancer MRIs to ensure Australian women get the care they need when they need it.
Doctors say one in five women with breast cancer will need an MRI, which can pick up cancers not detectable in some women by mammogram or ultrasound.
Medicare already subsidises similar MRI scans for men with prostate cancer – but not for women with breast cancer, except in extremely limited circumstances.
As a result, thousands of women are being charged up to $1500 in out-of-pocket costs for the scans used to diagnose their cancer, decide on treatment and ensure cancer does not return.
Many cancer patients will require multiple, regular scans as part of their treatment – meaning costs can accumulate to many thousands of dollars.
For women already going through the trauma of a cancer diagnosis these costs can add significantly to their stress. In the worst-case scenario, some women may forego these scans altogether because they simply cannot afford to pay the high out-of-pocket costs.
This is unacceptable. It’s time we supported these women and their families.
Under Labor’s proposal, we will work with experts to finalise the design of the new Medicare items that will give thousands of women access to subsidised scans for the first time.
We will pay for this new investment in Medicare by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.
Scott Morrison should immediately match this commitment in next week’s Budget.
When everything is going up except people’s wages, the soaring out-of-pocket costs of health care are putting too much pressure on family budgets.
Those out-of-pocket costs have spiralled out of control under the Liberals as a result of their six-year Medicare freeze. A Labor government will end this freeze in its first 50 days.
Labor believes access to health care should depend on your Medicare card, not your credit card.
That’s why Labor will invest in more beds, doctors and nurses with our Better Hospitals Fund, deliver new Medicare MRI licences, cap private health insurance premiums for two years, and end Morrison’s Medicare freeze.
We will have even more to say about our plans to invest in Medicare and primary care before the election.
Labor created Medicare and we will always protect and strengthen it.