Hidden $44m PBS cut: SHPA

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Hospitals will be losing out in the 2019-20 Budget based on a measure relating to pharmacy pricing

A hidden detail of the 2019 Federal Budget will cut funding to the PBS through a reduction in funds being paid to hospitals, warns the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA).

The measure, included as part of the Budget section Improving Access to Medicines – supporting community pharmacy, says the Government provide $245 million over five years from 2018-19 to improve consumer access to medicines and support community pharmacies.

This includes $215 million to provide an increase in AHI fees, $15 million in additional CSO payments, and $15 million towards expanding the Dose Administration Aids program and the MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck program.

However hospitals will be losing out as part of the measure, with an embedded clause that says the Government will be aligning public and private hospital pharmacy pricing with the community pharmacy pricing arrangements from 1 July 2019.

SHPA says this measure will slash the mark-up paid to public and private hospitals to support treatment with PBS medicines and medicines safety activities – from 11.1% to 7.52%.

“Information provided by the Department of Health indicates the funding cut will remove $44 million from Australian hospitals annually, the majority from public hospitals,” SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels.

This is essentially cutting millions of dollars from hospital budgets that are used to support the management of PBS medicines to patients being treated after heart attacks, stroke, life-threatening infections and during chemotherapy, says the organisation.

The cuts will potentially put 500 jobs at risk, they add.

“On behalf of our members, SHPA has been speaking to all major parties, however we are yet to see evidence of any measures to reduce the negative impact of these cuts,” says Ms Michaels.

“Rather than quietly cutting funds to the people who are experts in medicine management in acute settings, the government should be increasing support for hospital pharmacies to ensure that, as more and more complex medicines are added to the PBS, they can be used optimally and provided to more patients as effectively as possible.

“The pricing reduction to 7.52% removes funding currently paid to pharmacy departments as part of the Pharmaceutical Reform Agreement, which was implemented to reduce the wastage of scarce primary care resources and support better, patient-centred care,” she says.

“Prior to this agreement between the federal and key state governments, patients were forced to rush to a GP after being discharged from hospital and some went without crucial medicines for days – a situation Australians should not be asked to accept in 2019.

“On behalf of our members, we warn strongly against removing funding that enables medicines to be provided effectively to people leaving hospital after organ transplants and trauma surgery, or following treatment for chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes.”

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