Guild hits back in AFR

Following a critical piece in the Australian Financial Review about risk sharing arrangements, the Guild has responded with a firm call for reimbursement

Pharmacy Guild president George Tambassis has today had an opinion piece published in the Fairfax publication arguing for pharmacies to be recompensed by the government for a shortfall in 2015-16 prescriptions.

The article was written in response to a scathing piece by Terry Barnes published in the same paper yesterday, which referred to the Guild as a “cashed-up lobby group” with members that are protected from market competition.

Barnes argued that Health Minister Sussan Ley should refuse to honour the 6CPA risk share arrangement “in the public interest”.

“Ley caves into the latest guild demands, she will get no thanks from them,” he writes. “She must instead remind pharmacists of the generous gravy train they ride, and call the guild’s bluff in the public interest.”

Tambassis has responded by reiterating the nature of the risk share arrangements within the 6CPA.

“The agreement is an $18.9 billion investment based on agreed annual volumes of PBS prescriptions. Should there be a material variation between the actual and agreed prescription volumes, the agreement provides for a risk share that the government can put in place to address the variation.

“This process provides a level of certainty for the government and community pharmacies that the investment that has been committed to will be delivered, but not exceeded … It cuts both ways, and benefits both parties,” he writes.

The volume shortfall in prescriptions for 2015-16 has resulted in a financial shortfall of $82 million for community pharmacists across Australia – or about $15,000 for an average community pharmacy, says Tambassis.

“The guild is requesting that pharmacies be recompensed for this shortfall as provided for in the agreement,” he states on behalf of the Guild.

“The Pharmacy Agreements are a true public-private partnership which effectively ensure that the government is able to deliver a vital health outcome at an agreed cost to taxpayers.

“The guild signed the agreement on behalf of community pharmacies trusting that the commitments contained in it would be delivered in full, including the risk share.”

He also argues that Barnes, who co-wrote the 1999 National Competition Policy Review of Pharmacy Regulation report, does not understand the nature of pharmacy today.

“Terry Barnes’ supporting role in a review of pharmacy some 17 years ago hardly makes him an expert on the current landscape of community pharmacies, including the impact of almost a decade of PBS reforms on their viability,” Tambassis writes.

Read Tambassis’ piece here.

Read Barnes’ piece here.

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