July 20th, 2018

Area pharmacists set to protest fee changes with march to MLA’s office

By Gillian Slade on April 17, 2018.


Area pharmacists are planning a demonstration in Riverside Veteran’s Memorial Park on Thursday at 11 a.m.

A group called Pharmacists of Alberta Unite is expressing dissatisfaction about the cuts to the fee schedule announced by the provincial government at the end of February. The group is asking the government to return to talks with the pharmacists association, said Herber Castillo, a pharmacist and one of the organizers of the protest.

Following the gathering on Thursday in the park, Pharmacists of Alberta Unite will march to NDP MLA Bob Wanner’s office, said Castillo.

Changes to the pharmacist fee schedule agreement, to come into effect May 17, will see the fee for dispensing a prescription reduced from $12.30 to $12.15.

Pharmacists administering a publicly-funded vaccine, such as the influenza vaccine, will receive $13 per shot rather than the current $20.

When pharmacists provide patients with a comprehensive annual care plan, Alberta Health will pay $100 rather than $125 that pharmacists with prescribing authority are currently entitled to. Follow-ups to the care plan will be $20, and only $12 will be covered per year per patient.

Providing a patient with a medication management assessment will qualify for $60 rather than $75, which those with prescribing authority can currently claim.

A new “risk-sharing” component will take effect April 1, 2019 when year two of the deal kicks in to ensure budget targets are met.

“At least 10 per cent of government funding to pharmacies will be withheld each quarter to be used to address any budget shortfall. That percentage can increase, if required, to meet budget targets. If expenditures are less than budget, the holdback will be redistributed to pharmacies,” says the Alberta Health website.

The changes to the fee schedule are expected to save $150 million over the next two years, Alberta Health has said.

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