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RACGP welcomes increased pharmacy funding


Jolyon Attwooll


4/07/2023 1:35:15 PM

The 2023–24 financial year has ushered in new measures targeted at supporting community pharmacies.

Pharmacist with medications
Funding rises could see the most remote pharmacies receive more than $90,000 per year in extra assistance, the Federal Government has said.

The RACGP has welcomed the arrival of measures designed to shore up the viability of community pharmacies.
 
Two financial boosts kicked in on 1 July, with funding for the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) doubled, and a 7% rise in dispensing fees agreed in the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement also coming into effect.
 
‘The significant financial boost to pharmacies from 1 July is welcome, particularly for those in our rural communities,’ RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said.
 
Funding for the RPMA, which is aimed at supporting pharmacies in outer regional, rural and remote communities, now stands at $39.8 million.
 
It means pharmacies in towns with a population of 15,000–50,000 – classified as Modified Monash Model 3 areas – will receive a base rate of $6000 (up from $3000).
 
The allowance for pharmacies in very remote communities will increase the most, up to $69,860. The total RPMA rise for MMM areas 4–7 depends on the number of scripts dispensed.
 
A 7% indexation rise for dispensing PBS medicines is also now in effect, which according to Federal Government calculations will give the average metropolitan pharmacy more than $41,000 additional funding per year, and more than $43,000 for pharmacies in large regional centres.
 
The rise was stipulated for the 2023–2024 financial year as part of the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement, with the increase pegged to the Consumer Price Index.
 
According to a press release published on Monday by Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler, the combined impact will mean the most remote pharmacies ‘may be eligible to receive more than $90,000 per year in assistance’.
 
Dr Higgins said the increased funding will benefit remote communities.
 
‘Rural and remote communities typically have limited access to health services. Sometimes there’s just one general practice and pharmacy, and the local community relies on them heavily,’ she said.
 
‘The rural primary care community is also tightknit, we support each other, and I know there will be many rural GPs who’ll be happy to hear about this additional support for their local pharmacists.’
 
The move follows the decision to double pharmacy dispensing to 60 days, which will allow patients with chronic conditions to receive an extra month’s worth of more than 300 PBS-subsidised medications.
 
The policy was recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) in 2018 and is supported by a wide range of healthcare and patient groups, including the Consumers Health Forum and the RACGP.
 
However, pharmacy groups have expressed strong concerns about the impact of the changes and have warned of possible closures.
 
Minister Butler said any Government savings would be invested in pharmacies.
 
‘Every single dollar saved by the Government will go back into pharmacy services, so pharmacists play an even more central role in the healthcare of Australians,’ he said.
 
The Minister also referenced the introduction of PBS subsidies for opioid dependency medications, described as a ‘$377 million investment in community pharmacies’, as well as new rules meaning manufacturers need to keep 4–6 months of common medicines in stock.
 
The new 60-day dispensing system is being phased in over 12 months, with the first of three tranches of eligible medications set to be introduced on 1 September this year.
 
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60-day dispensing Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance RPMA


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Dr Greg Saville   6/07/2023 7:01:24 PM

This was a little too magnanimous of the College president. The Guild are using every opportunity to nickel and dime General Practice by chipping away at those things done best by GP’s and stealing them for an extra quick buck.