The new year has brought some welcome Health news around telehealth for Covid testing and a major change to the PBS.
Since the early days of the pandemic, of the many moving parts of the federal health response, improved access to telehealth remains one of the standout successes in terms of improved patient access and outcomes.
Telehealth’s successful addition to options for patients to consult with GPs prompted then Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt in late 2021 to make telehealth permanent.
Does not meet the established clinical relationship requirement;
Is eligible for Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) criteria for antiviral therapy;
Is experiencing acute respiratory symptoms; and
Is seeking a request to a private pathologist for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing in relation to COVID-19.
This exemption allows patients who meet these criteria to receive a telehealth or phone consultation for the purpose of seeking the request for an MBS-funded PCR test.
Maximum cost of PBS-subsidised prescriptions drops
While many will have celebrated the end of 2022 and beginning of 2023 as an opportunity to move on a little more from some of the more trying times of the pandemic, there was something equally substantial to celebrate for those who need PBS-subsidised prescriptions.
For the first time since the PBS was established 75 years ago, the maximum cost of PBS prescriptions has dropped.
While in recent years there have been savings for some who require regular medication as larger pharmacy chains were able to offer discounts due to their buying power, this historical change in government policy will see widespread reductions.
From 1 January, 2023, the PBS co-payment for non-concession card holders was reduced from $42.50 to $30, representing a nearly 30% cut in price. And, in even better GP news, this reduction will be maintained as it is indexed every year from January 1, 2024.
“Pharmacists have told me stories of their customers coming in with a handful of prescriptions asking for advice about which script they can go without, because they can’t afford to fill them all,” Butler said.
“Our cheaper medicines policy will make that choice redundant for millions of Australians.”
A patient fact sheet that goes into more detail about the changes and possible further reductions can be accessed here.
And also, as often happens on January 1 each year, the PBS announced new medicines to its list, including several important medications:
Belcometasone with formoterol and glycopyrronium, used for the maintenance treatment of severe asthma;
Daratumumab for the treatment of amyloid light-chain amyloidosis (a rare disorder that occurs when the amyloid protein builds up in organs); and
Faricimab, which is used to treat eye diseases
The addition of these medications will help over 80,000 patients.
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