Health

Budget 2022 – Implications for Pharmacy Patients 

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced the government’s budget to the nation. Here are the implications for the health sector, particularly the pharmacy sector and its patients. 

Concession RATS

The Australian Government is investing more than $1.6 billion to ensure equitable access to rapid antigen tests (RATs) to help detect COVID-19 and provide reassurance to Australians and their families as we continue to live with COVID.

The COVID-19 Rapid Test Concessional Access (CRTCA) Program commenced on 24 January 2022 and provided support for concession cardholders to access 10 RATs from participating community pharmacies before the end of April 2022. 

The government is now proposing, subject to its legislation passing, a three-month extension of the program to 31 July 2022, which will provide patients with the ability to access a further 10 RATs during the May to July period.

Extending the support for concession cardholders to access RATs through participating community pharmacies is an effort to ensure that low or limited income is not a barrier to the accessibility of the tests.

Prescription Safety Net Requirements

The Australian Government is investing $525.3 million over four years to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for Australians who rely on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidised medicines, by reducing the eligibility threshold to meet the PBS Safety Net. 

From 1 July 2022, and subject to the legislation passing, the PBS Safety Net threshold in each calendar year will be lowered by the equivalent of 12 fully priced scripts for concession cardholders and the equivalent of 2 fully priced scripts for non-concessional (general) patients

This means concession cardholders will be able to access medication at no cost, and general patients will be able to access medication for $6.80, more readily.

Further details are to follow.

New Medicines Added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

The Australian Government is investing $2.4 billion in new and amended listings for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), including treatments for cancer, cystic fibrosis, severe eczema, asthma, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and heart failure.

From April 2022, Trikafta®, the combination product of elexacaftor/tezacaftor/ivacaftor and ivacaftor will be listed on the PBS for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.

From May 2022:

  • Ofev® (nintedanib) will be included on the PBS for use in the treatment of progressive fibrosing interstitial lung disease.
  • Zolgensma® (onasemnogene abeparvovec) will also be listed for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy.
  • Trodelvy® (sacituzumab govitecan) will be included for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer.

Other new and amended PBS listings can be found here.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt’s full announcement can be found here.

Is It Enough? 

As reported by the Australian Journal of Pharmacy, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PSA) says the announcement by the Federal Government of a further lowering of the PBS Safety Net Threshold does not go far enough to address the growing issue of medicines affordability. Especially for non-concession cardholders who may already be struggling with the cost of living pressures. 

Professor Trent Twomey, the Guild’s national president, said the Government had “squandered an opportunity to help millions of Australians better access critical medicines, relieving hip pocket pressures for working families and reducing the burden of preventable disease on our hospitals and emergency services”.

“The maximum general co-payment for the PBS is now $42.50 and will keep rising every year hitting $50 by the end of the decade,” Professor Twomey said.

PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, also stated that “While we are delighted the minister has recognised the important role that pharmacists play by announcing $345.7 million in funding to embed pharmacists in aged care facilities, the fact that fair remuneration for services that pharmacists provide has once again been overlooked by the Government is a bitter pill to swallow.”  

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates.

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