Once implemented, the 6CPA will provide a more certainty for community pharmacies to continue investing, employing and high quality health care for the next five years, says David Quilty.
“Like previous community pharmacy agreements, the 6CPA covers the issues of pharmacy remuneration for dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions, pharmacy wholesaler remuneration including the Community Service Obligation, Pharmacy Location Rules and professional programs and services,” Quilty writes.
“However, the Minister for Health has made clear that the 6CPA’s commencement on 1 July and the benefits contained in it are contingent upon the successful passage of a wider PBS package which the Government is seeking to legislate during this sitting of Parliament.
“This package includes a range of budget savings across the PBS supply chain as well as the legislated extension of the Location Rules, which enjoy bipartisan support.”
He says that the Guild supports the wider PBS package – with the exception of the proposal to allow the discounting of PBS co-payments, which is a matter for the Government.
“Dispensing medicines is the core clinical role of pharmacists,” he says.
“The 6CPA has recognised the value of dispensing with the new Administration, Handline and Infrastructure Fee replacing pharmacy mark-up and substantially delinking dispensing remuneration from the cost of medicines.
“This will enable the Government to continue its PBS reforms whilst not jeopardising standards of patient care.
“The AHI will be set at a level that will maintain per prescription remuneration at the average of the 5CPA in real terms. Dispensing remuneration will be indexed to CPI during the 6CPA.
“The 6CPA maintains the wholesaler Community Service Obligation and the current mark-up arrangements for wholesalers. However the Government has foreshadowed a review of the CSO service standards.”
Importantly, the Location Rules will be extended until mid-2020, Quilty writes, with any changes to the Location Rules to be agreed between the Government and the Guild.
“As part of the 6CPA, the Government has committed up to $1.26 billion to evidence-based, patient focused professional programs and services.
“An independent health assessment body such as the Medical Services Advisory Committee or Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee will assess all 6CPA programs and services.
“While much of the additional funding will be in the later years of the 6CPA, it has the potential to significantly enhance the primary health care role of community pharmacies. During 2015-16, the core professional services from the Fifth Agreement will be maintained.”
The Government has also committed to $50 million over the 6CPA for a Pharmacy Trial Program to trial new and expanded community pharmacy programs. These will seek to improve clinical outcomes for consumers and/or extend the role of pharmacists in the delivery of health care services through community pharmacy.
“It is intended that a particular focus of the new, continuing and expanded community pharmacy programs will be on services that benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Australians living in rural and remote areas,” Quilty writes.
“The Guild will work closely with stakeholders in ensuring that the Government’s increased investment in community pharmacy programs delivers maximum benefit for the sector, the profession and patients.
“In particular, we are committed to continuing our close partnership with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia which jointly developed the suite of professional services that formed the basis of the 6CPA negotiations.
“Overall, the Guild believes the 6CPA delivers a solid outcome for community pharmacies in a tough fiscal environment, evidenced by the fact that the Government is making a $2.4 billion increased investment in the 6CPA compared with the forward estimates ($2.8 billion including chemotherapy).
“Now the Agreement has been signed, the Guild is focused on ensuring that the facilitating legislation is passed and working through the detail with the Government and stakeholders.”
Pictured: Health Minister Sussan Ley and David Quilty sign the Agreement.