HMR caps still a concern

The issue of funding caps on the HMR and RMMR programs has again raised its head during a discussion of professional service trials.

In a panel discussion at the recent PSA16 conference, dedicated to the 6CPA Pharmacy Trial Programs, former PSA national vice president John Jackson asked why new trial funding was being discussed when existing service-based pharmacy programs – the HMR and RMMR programs – were still capped.

To widespread support from other delegates, Jackson said the issue was one that needed rapid resolution given the length of time the caps had been in place.

“Consultant pharmacist incomes are still being affected by this restriction,” he said.

Panellists, including George Tambassis, national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, largely agreed that while the caps were an unfortunate consequence of earlier funding decisions, little could be done till more research was collated on the existing programs.       

Penny Shakespeare, First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Division said any decision on revising the level of funding for the HMR/RMMR programs would occur after a review of the program.

This would take place as part of the process of properly evaluating the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of all continuing community pharmacy programs by the Medical Services Advisory Committee, and will occur during the life of the 6CPA. 

Dr Claire O’Reilly of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, and recently the first pharmacist appointed to MSAC said the current HMR/RMMR program would be assessed as part of that review, and if its efficacy proved to be evidence-based, it should in due course be appropriately funded.

Meanwhile, the first of the PTP programs –   Pharmacy-based screening and referral for diabetes – was currently at an advanced stage, with a trial protocol developed, and “trialling to commence soon”, according to Health Minister Sussan Ley.

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