Chemo co-payments scrapped: Labor offers relief for cancer patients

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Country Labor candidate for Orange Bernard Fitzsimon.CANCER patients will receive some relief if Labor wins the state election, with chemotherapy co-payments to be scrapped.

Country Labor candidate for Orange Bernard Fitzsimon said Labor would abolish the co-payment for all cancer patients in NSW public hospitals.

The payment applies to first-time chemotherapy treatments covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. (PBS).

Mr Fitzsimon said he was concerned about the co-payment’s impact on regional cancer patients and the charities who supported them.

“Our overworked regional charity organisations are doing a fantastic job in relation to health outcomes,” he said.

“Many, however, could well have found themselves in the default situation of subsidising rural and regional cancer patients who could not cope with the additional burden of the co-payment, as well as the cost of accommodation and travel to a regional treatment centre.”

Payments can reach up to $180 or more if a patient’s treatment changes.

Orange’s Bev Glover has fought cancer since 2004.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but any assistance we as cancer patients can get we are grateful for,” she said.

However, she said the government should ideally cover the price of all medication and treatment.

She received two treatments covered by the PBS, but the third was not covered and she had to pay $17,000.

“I asked my oncologist how many other people were on the same treatment and he said there were only two. I asked him why and he said it was because of the expense,” she said.

“People may have lost their fight with cancer because they couldn’t afford the drug.”

Cancer Care Western NSW fundraising chair Jan Savage said the financial pressures of cancer were detrimental to health outcomes.

“The duration of treatment is often lengthy, people have to be away from home and a lot of people aren’t well enough during treatment to work full time,” she said.

Mrs Savage said cancer organisations were well supported, however, it was harder to raise funds in towns with smaller populations.

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