Community pharmacies secure cost of living relief for all Australians

14 May 2024

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the cost-of-living relief in the Labor Government’s 2024 Commonwealth Budget.

For up to five years, the maximum amount patients pay toward the cost of PBS subsidised medicines will not incur the annual CPI indexation. This measure will save Australian patients $318 million over the forward estimates and an additional $166.4 million in 2028-29. Community pharmacies will receive an increase in funding for the provision of Dose Administration Aids, at a cost of $151.1 million over five years and an additional $45.6 million in 2028-29.

These measures, published in the Commonwealth Budget, were secured by the Guild as part of the 8th Community Pharmacy Agreement negotiations. The 8CPA is good news for patients and good news for community pharmacies.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s National President Professor Trent Twomey said, “The freezing of maximum medicine co-payments via the staged application of the discretionary $1 discount will help Australians struggling with the cost of healthcare and will restore universality to the PBS.”

Professor Twomey said the measure will provide much needed relief for those struggling to afford their essential medicines amidst inflationary pressures and a cost-of-living crisis.

“Freezing indexation of co-payment means patients won’t have to foot more of the overall cost for their medicines come 1 January each year,” Professor Twomey said.

“On behalf of our members, the Guild has a strong track record of fighting to bring down the cost of medicines. I’m pleased the Guild secured anti-inflationary relief for patients by phasing in the universal application of the $1 discount as part of our 8CPA negotiations.”

As part of the new 5 year 8CPA to take effect from 1 July 2024, these measures will support a viable and sustainable network of community pharmacies across Australia so that patients’ healthcare can continue to be prioritised.

Community pharmacies will be funded to deliver more dose administration aids. The DAA base cap for a community pharmacy will increase from 60 per week to 90 per week. Dose Administration Aids are essential clinical service of community pharmacies that improves medicine safety, compliance and patient outcomes.

Professor Twomey said, “The provision of more funded Dose Administration Aids delivered through community pharmacies will improve patient healthcare outcomes and sustain a viable community pharmacy network.”

The Guild also welcomed Budget confirmation of:

  • $0.9 million to allow pharmacists to administer vaccines in residential aged care homes and residential disability services.
  • The indexation of payments under NIPVIP from 1 July 2024 in line with indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
  • $490 million to continue the National COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • $11.1 million for eligible First Nations patients to have free or cheaper access to all PBS medicines.

After recent policy disagreements, the Guild welcomes the Labor Government’s additional $3 billion investment in community pharmacies, to ensure their viability and sustainability.

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