The Coalition attempted to answer some of that criticism with a women’s economic security, health and safety package in 2021 worth about $680 million and a further $189 million promised in the forthcoming budget.
Cystic Fibrosis Community Care chief executive Karin Knoester said the decision to fund the drug, Trikafta, through the PBS was “about as significant as it gets”.
Cystic fibrosis causes persistent lung infections and is a genetic condition that causes the build-up of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs which makes it harder to breathe. People with the disorder at times live with reduced lung capacity and have an average life expectancy of just 47 years.
“This drug increases your stamina and quality of life, so you can walk further and breathe easier,” Ms Knoester said.
“People with CF can be admitted to hospital up to four times per year for things like intravenous antibiotics to cut infection and to have their lungs cleared, to get the body on a somewhat even keel.”
Twenty-eight-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer Jess Ragusa, from the New South Wales Central Coast, said the decision to fund Trikafta in the federal budget was “life-changing” for her and others with the genetic condition.
“I’m self-funding my treatment and it costs $21,375 per month. My mum and dad had to remortgage their home and pretty soon we were going to have to sell assets. Now we don’t have to worry about that. It will be available for $6.80,” she said.
“Breathing is much harder [with CF]. I’m at 80 per cent [lung capacity] now but when I’m sick, it can be 40 per cent.” Ms Ragusa compared that to breathing through a straw.
“I haven’t known any different, my whole life has been doctors’ appointments and medication. Trikafta is changing everything that is wrong with me.”
Outgoing Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was proud that in his final budget as a minister, this was “one of the final treatments listed on the PBS under my watch”.
He said that since 2013, the Coalition had approved more than 2800 new and amended listings on the PBS.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported on Saturday that Tuesday’s budget would outline a $20 billion boost to forecasts driven by the biggest fall in government payments in five decades, due to a stronger-than-expected economic recovery.
That, in turn, opens the way to greater spending on key services such as transport, infrastructure, health and hospitals.
Other measures that have already been foreshadowed in the budget include a temporary cut to the 44¢-a-litre fuel excise, to help people with soaring petrol prices, and a possible $250 cash hand-out to families on low and middle incomes, which may also be expanded to pensioners.
Jacqueline Maley cuts through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis. Sign up to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.