“As disruption rips through the prescription dispensing market, the Minister of Health has to show leadership," says ACT Leader David Seymour.
"He should give pharmacists certainty about the purpose of the $5 prescription co-payment. Either it is there to make sure people only take prescriptions they truly need, and should be mandatory, or they are simply a government tax and they should be gone.
“ACT always supports free markets and competition, but the playing field should not be tilted by Government regulations. The Government’s $5 tax per prescription is being absorbed by some pharmacies, meaning their prescriptions appear $5 cheaper to the patient.
“The purpose of this tax is so that pharmacies pass on the cost to the patient, as a way of ensuring the patient has skin in the game when taking a prescription. Failing to pass on this cost to the patient is undermining the Government’s public policy objective of making sure the patient makes a contribution to their prescription.
“If the Government no longer wants a co-payment, it should stop charging one. If the Government does want a co-payment, it should be clear that it’s a fee that must be attached to all prescriptions.
“The community pharmacy and all the informal support and advice they give are at stake here. If the community pharmacy that keeps collecting the Government’s fee is pushed out of business we will be all the poorer. It may be that the consumer will choose larger scale competitors anyway, but consumer choice should not be distorted by Government policy."