The location rules won’t be relaxed, and there’ll be a guarantee on risk share, the Health Minister has told pharmacists
Speaking at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Parliamentary Dinner in Canberra on Tuesday night, Greg Hunt gave his audience a sneak peek at the 7CPA – for which negotiations will begin “in earnest” today, Wednesday.
Mr Hunt said that one of the most important things the Morrison Government has done was to remove the sunset clause from the location rules.
“And the reason we did that was to give you the certainty and therefore the bankability over your businesses,” he said.
This was in recognition of the “valuable role” of community pharmacy.
“And that is not on the table, by the way, in the 7CPA,” he added, confirming previous assurances that the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement would not include the loosening of the location rules hoped for by stakeholders such as convenience store spokesman Jeff Rogut, Chemist Warehouse and former ACCC boss Graeme Samuel.
He mentioned a measure currently before Parliament which will see increased access to the Safety Net for patients filling a certain number of scripts.
“What that means is that we will be reducing the number of concessional scripts from 60 to 48 before somebody is in a position to qualify for the Safety Net,” Mr Hunt said.
“Many people will get free medicines earlier, but without detriment to any of the pharmacies involved.”
Mr Hunt said that the Government believes “deeply, profoundly and utterly” in community pharmacy.
“Our great task going forward, one which we’ve already started upon but we really head into in earnest tomorrow, is the negotiations over the 7CPA.”
He said a key principle for the Government was “about certainty”.
“We’re looking to reduce the fluctuation in payments. So we’re developing a model which hopefully will see that we set what we believe to be the remuneration through the negotiation and discussion which is fair and reasonable – and we know that the number of scripts came under what was predicted last time.”
Therefore the Government had to supplement – and for some pharmacy owners this had been a “significantly difficult moment,” he said.
“So what [Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis] has set out, what we agree with, is agreeing on a trajectory where we will have a real outcome in terms of remuneration that you can bank on.
“It’s protected for us, because we know what we’ll have to pay, it’s protected for you, because you know what you will receive.
“And we’ve got ways to adjust it against the volume, that’s part of our design process, but so as you can see, over the next five year period, this is the amount, and this time that amount will be effectively guaranteed.
“The second thing we want to do is to simplify the payment system and to make sure that we’re not trying to cram too many different things and to use more of the AHI as a simple mechanism, and then to make sure that we are focusing on critical community pharmacy needs around aged care, around dose administration, around diabetes and Pain MedsCheck.
“Things we can agree on are fundamental to the community. So it’s about safety, it’s about certainty, and these are the things that we want to achieve through this Agreement.”