The 2016-7 Budget has not proven alarming for Australian community pharmacy, with no more major changes to the PBS affecting the sector.
For some pharmacies, the news is good, with company and personal income tax cuts, an increased tax discount and instant equipment write-offs.
Here’s our roundup of stakeholder reaction:
Some stakeholders have expressed cautious approval: as the Guild said, “The last thing the owners of local pharmacies across Australia and the wider medicines sector needed tonight would have been further policy shifts affecting their bottom lines”.
The Australian Medical Association isn’t happy. The doctors’ group has slammed the extension of the freeze of the Medicare patient rebate until 2020, which it says will hit the sickest patients hardest.
The Cancer Council, on the other hand, is pleased with the confirmed increases in tobacco excise which it says will make 320,000 smokers more likely to quit. It also backed other measures which it says will improve cancer outcomes.
Former pharmacist Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, says it’s never been a more exciting time to be an SME.
And the Guild agrees. The tax cuts are a win for community pharmacy, it says, as many pharmacies would derive real benefit from them.
Health Minister Sussan Ley says the Government will increase its overall investment in health, aged care and sport to $89.5 billion in 2016–17, and that these measures build on the passage of the pharmacy and medicine price reforms last year. Everyday medicines prices are set to drop by up to half, she says.
The PSA says it’s wondering whether funding allocated to some primary healthcare programs will be enough to have a real impact on consumer health, as this equates to about $100 a year per patient.
And the PHAA says the Budget doesn’t focus enough on preventive health.
Other stakeholders, including Medicines Australia, the Medicines Partnership of Australia and Research Australia, also have their own mixed bag of concerns.