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PM dodges senior health card worries

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has tried to sidestep speculation that the subsidised access of seniors to medicine will be restricted under changes being considered for the May Budget.

Responding to reports that the Commission of Audit has recommended that the exemption of superannuation income from eligibility tests for the Seniors Health Care Card be reconsidered, Mr Abbott said the Government would stand by its election commitments.

The Card gives older Australians who do not receive the age pension or a veteran’s benefit and who meet income tests, discounts on medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

In the election, the Coalition pledged to lift the income eligibility threshold in line with inflation, which it estimated would allow an extra 20,000 self-funded retirees access to the Card, at a cost of $100 million over four years.

Mr Abbott said the Government was “carefully considering the interim [Commission of Audit] report”.

“”The stress that I want to put on everything is we will keep our commitments,” he said. “We will do what’s necessary to put Australia on a fiscally sustainable path forward. But we will do it in ways that are consistent with the commitments we put forward before the election.”

“We made an absolutely crystal clear commitment before the election to index the eligibility thresholds, and we will keep our commitments.”

Adrian Rollins