A Joint Position Paper calling for improvements in the Closing The Gap (CTG) PBS Co-payment measure was signed between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia today.
According to a statement, practical changes to the PBS will boost the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples accessing appropriate medicines and help close the health gap between Aboriginal and other Australians.
Introduced in 2010, the Closing the Gap Co-Payment measure reduces or removes the patient co-payment for PBS medicines for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients living with, or at risk of, chronic disease.
Some of the key points the position paper raises are the need for the measure to:
- link CTG eligibility to the patient’s Medicare Card to improve privacy, and so that the patient is eligible regardless of who the prescriber is or where their medicine is dispensed;
- expand the PBS listing to include more common medicines;
- include DAAs for better management of medicines; and
- better communication for patients and health professionals of the CTG Co-payment measure.
NACCHO chairperson Matthew Cooke says it is crucial that so that people have access to appropriate medicines.
He stresses that chronic diseases are one of the main reasons there is a life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
“Improved access to medicines is critically important if we are to see generational change in the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Guild president, George Tambassis, says it is “pleasing” that more than 258,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients were accessing the more affordable PBS medicines through the measure, but more could be done to ensure greater uptake.
“A range of practical enhancements would assist those in remote areas to get better access to the medicines under the scheme and ensure they have access to it wherever they fill their prescriptions.
“We want this vital scheme to be sufficiently flexible to improve the health of people wherever they live and wherever they travel,” he says.
“These relatively simple improvements will help in the management of chronic disease within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”