HMR cap raised, but more help needed

The monthly cap for the Home Medicines Review Program is set to increase from 20 to 30 HMRs in March

The Department of Health announced the change to the cap on Friday.

The Pharmacy Programs Administrator advised that, “this means each approved HMR Service Provider may claim up to a total of 30 HMR Services that have been conducted within a calendar month and each Accredited Pharmacist may conduct up to 30 HMR Services per calendar month, irrespective of the number of approved HMR Service Providers they provide HMR Services on behalf of”.

“Please note the cap is based on the date the HMR service was conducted not the date the claim was submitted to the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal,” it noted.

“Any claims submitted in March with a service date in February will therefore be assessed against the February monthly cap of 20.”

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild welcomed the move but said that more needed to be done.

“We welcome additional investment in medication management programs for the benefit of patients and in the interests of quality use of medicines,” the spokesperson said.

“However, the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care called for measures specific to residential aged care, and these remain to be addressed.”

He said that further measures more directly beneficial to aged care facility residents would include:

  • Amending the RMMR patient eligibility criteria to incorporate people in residential respite care and transitional care;
  • Focusing Compliance and Audit activity on RMMR services and QUM program provision;
  • Funding participation by pharmacists in case conferencing arrangements; and
  • Amending the RMMR Program Rules to allow for more than one RMMR Service Provider to be contracted for a single Residential Aged Care Facility to facilitate patient choice and enable RMMRs to be conducted locally and more responsively to patient need.

The PSA said that older Australians would be better supported to avoid medicine-related harms as a result of the change.

“PSA welcomes this change which will help increase consumer access to HMRs across the country,” said National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman.

“PSA have been calling for better access to medicine reviews for some time, most recently through recommendations contained in our Medicine Safety: Aged care report released earlier this week.

“Medicine-related problems lead to 250,000 hospital admissions each year costing $1.4 billion annually.

“Medicine review services undertaken by accredited pharmacists, such as HMRs, are a key way in which problems with medicines are identified and resolved in partnership with consumers and their general practitioner.”

Home Medicine Reviews not only can improve a patient’s quality of life, but can save lives, he said, observing that patients who take more than one medicine can be at risk of major problems associated with their medicines.

Home Medication Reviews can improve the outcomes from medicine use in Australia, said A/Prof Freeman.

“Our members have told us of significant delays consumers have experienced waiting for the calendar to tick over to the next month before being able to receive a HMR from their pharmacist who has hit their HMR cap for the month.

“Australians living in rural and remote parts of the country are one of the main groups to struggle with health care accessibility.

“The cap of 20 HMRs per month particularly hits hard on consumers living in rural communities where there is usually no other accredited pharmacists available to provide the service.

“PSA has called for the removal of these caps since their inception. We would like to thank the Minister for Health for this announcement today on behalf of all pharmacists and their patients.

“We are pleased with today’s announcement as a first step and we are committed to continue working with Government to further improve access to medicine review services.”

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