The guild wants an additional $3.3 billion in its funding negotiations.
“Pharmacists are ready, willing and able to step up and provide more care and services to patients, at a time when the health system is under significant strain, and we look forward to those opportunities within the eighth community pharmacy agreement,” Twomey said.
The deals usually last five years and spell out how much pharmacies are paid by the government for dispensing drugs listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Butler has already promised to redirect back into pharmacies the $1.2 billion that the government will save from dispensing and handling fees, through measures including regional grants and expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice.
However, the guild is relying on modelling it commissioned from economist Henry Ergas that says pharmacies will lose $4.5 billion over four years – a difference of $3.3 billion, which the government rejects.
The opposition has also taken issue with the changes.
Butler urged the Liberals to stop trying to overturn a measure that would help people.
“I encourage (Opposition Leader) Peter Dutton to stop trying to block this measure and get behind it,” he said.
Opposition health spokeswoman, Senator Anne Ruston, said the coalition and community pharmacists had won the fight for further negotiations.
“Our focus was always on resolving the legitimate concerns that were raised for the serious impacts that unconsulted, unmodelled and rushed policy could have on patients and communities,” Ruston said.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Nicole Higgins said the government’s change would bring immediate benefits for some the most vulnerable people in the community, with fewer trips to pick up medicines and repeat scripts.
Consumers Health Forum CEO Elizabeth Deveny said the measure was a “significant win” for consumers to make healthcare more affordable, accessible and equitable.
“Amid growing cost of living pressures, many consumers have been finding it increasingly difficult to stay well, having to choose between the costs of vital medications and other essentials,” she said in a statement.