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Wednesday, 21 September 1983
Page: 1132

Question No. 399

Mr Wells asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 25 August 1983:

(1) Were Queensland pharmacists able to receive National Health Scheme and repatriation prescription cheques in approximately 15 days in the past, compared within excess of 30 days in some instances at present; if so, why.

(2) Is it a fact that many pharmacists are unable to run their businesses when there is such a considerable delay in receipt of their payment.

(3) Did the Departments of Veterans' Affairs and Social Security run out of funds during the 1982-83 financial year and thus were unable to make payments to the pharmacists.

Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Under normal circumstances claims made under the National Health Scheme ( NHS) and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) should be processed for payment within thirty calendar days of receipt, as is normal commercial practice. In fact, my Department makes every effort to pass claims for payment in the shortest possible time within the thirty day period. At times the average processing period has been 15 calendar days or less. As an indication of the present situation, the majority of claims passed for payment by my Department in Queensland on 25 August 1983 were received on 8 August, an elapsed period of seventeen calendar days.

(2) With the present processing situation Queensland pharmacists should not be experiencing liquidity problems as a result of delays in pharmaceutical benefits reimbursements.

(3) Late in June 1983 the Department of Veterans' Affairs was required to seek additional funds to meet payment obligations in respect of Repatriation pharmaceutical benefit claims for the remainder of the 1982-83 financial year. The resultant delays of 4 to 5 calendar days affected payments to about 200 Queensland pharmacists. The Department of Social Security is not involved in the payment of pharmacists' claims for the supply of pharmaceutical benefits.