Budget confirms lifting of PBS patient co-payment

cash sticking out of coin purse

The Budget has confirmed that the Government still intends to lift the PBS patient co-payment and safety net thresholds, first announced in last year’s Budget, says the Pharmacy Guild.

“The confirmation that the Government will persevere with this measure contrasts with recent speculation that it intends to allow pharmacies to discount the co-payment by up to $1, at pharmacies’ expense,” says the Guild.

“The Budget contains no mention of the discounted co-payment but it should be assumed that it is a matter that is being considered as part of the wider PBS package that continues to be negotiated with the Guild and other parties.”

The Guild has welcomed the tax cut for small business companies, and the tax discount for unincorporated businesses are significant and helpful, it says.

It also welcomed the announcement that small businesses with annual turnover under $2 million will get an immediate tax deduction for every asset they buy costing $20,000 or less. Currently the threshold sits at $1,000.

“The Budget has confirmed that the Government will provide $485 million over four years to revamp the stalled personal eHealth record system,” the Guild says.

“The Government will make key system and governance improvements and implement trials of opt-out arrangements. The switch to an opt-out system has been supported by the Guild.

“Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records will be renamed as My Health Records and the Government will provide national coordination for eHealth by transitioning governance arrangements from the National E-Health Transition Authority to the new Australian Commission for eHealth.

“Trials will be held in at least two regions in 2016 and will assess public and provider responses to revised participation arrangements, including to an opt-out model.”

But PBS growth continues to bypass community pharmacy, the Guild says.

“The 2015 Budget papers confirm that PBS growth – to the extent that it exists – is being driven by drugs and prescriptions that largely bypass the community pharmacy network.

“50% of the dollar growth predicted in the next four years will come from Highly Specialised Drugs and other drugs dispensed in hospitals, even though they only represent 22% of the total spend.

“These high growth areas are expected to grow by a total of 39% in real terms over the next four years, compared with a total four year increase of just 0.8% in real terms for the components of expenditure that relate to community pharmacy.

“The Budget also confirms the long-term impact of PBS reforms on the community pharmacy sector, with expenditure on community pharmacy medicines in 2018-19 set to be 12% lower than it was in 2011-12 (seven years earlier), in real terms.”

The Department of Health’s Budget papers reveal that savings generated by PBS price disclosure will increase from $2.1 billion in 2014-15 to $3.1 billion in 2018-19.  The projections indicate that savings will now exceed $14 billion over the period of the 6CPA.

The 6CPA continues to be negotiated separately from the Budget.

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