‘Money for nothing’ claims inaccurate

Pharmacy owners have been accused of gaining a $43,000 boost for ‘nothing’

In the latest article on the pharmacy sector from News Corp national health reporter Sue Dunlevy, pharmacists were targeted as the biggest individual winners from this year’s Budget, handed down on Tuesday.

“The nation’s 4900 pharmacy owners will share in a $200 million government handout because they did not sell as many prescriptions as they hoped,” Ms Dunlevy wrote in a piece titled, “Budget 2017: Pharmacy owners score $43,000 boost for essentially doing nothing”.

“Yes, that’s right, instead of banking savings because fewer people used prescription medicines the government is paying chemists for 6.5 million scripts they did not dispense,” she wrote.

“If that money had instead been spent on health care it could have funded 10,000 knee replacements or over 9000 hip replacements.”

Only last week Ms Dunlevy wrote an article discussing “greedy chemists” who were not passing on the $1 copayment discount. A “willingness to review” this copayment was welcomed by the Guild after the Budget was handed down.

Guild executive director David Quilty has again written to News Corp media to point out the error in the latest article.

“The claim by Sue Dunlevy that pharmacists received funding in the Federal Budget for ‘doing nothing’ is wrong,” he wrote.  

“On the contrary, the funding commitments to which Ms Dunlevy refers are for delivering patient services and to partner with the Government to reduce patient and taxpayer costs by encouraging the greater uptake of generic medicines. 

“These facts are clearly outlined in Minister Hunt’s compact with the Pharmacy Guild.”

In 2015-6, total script volumes were 2.14% lower than forecast in the 6CPA, which will now be paid over the remaining life of the 6CPA through an increase to the AHI fee.

The Guild has been seeking a solution to the risk share issue for some time.

In November last year Mr Quilty wrote in Forefront that the shortfall was delivering the Government a saving in excess of $400 million that was not anticipated at the time of the Agreement.

“For pharmacies, the shortfall equates to a $15,000 reduction in remuneration for the average pharmacy dispensing 55,000 scripts a year, at a time when the annualised adverse impact of the Government’s PBS reforms is an estimated $42,000 per pharmacy.

“For pharmacies, this reimbursement is urgent,” he wrote.

“They have borrowed, invested and incurred the fixed costs to fulfil their dispensing related responsibilities under the Agreement. 

“Many are struggling to maintain their profitability as a result of the impact of the Government’s PBS reforms and their ability to make the transition to becoming broader primary health care providers will be put at risk if it is not paid.

“More importantly, this risk share arrangement goes to the crux of why the Federal Government and community pharmacies enter into agreements in the first place. 

“It is the means by which the core commitments in the Agreement are delivered in full, but not exceeded, to the benefit of both parties.”

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