Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA)
The Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) is continued under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA).
The RPMA helps with the additional costs of maintaining a pharmacy in rural and remote areas of Australia. The monthly allowance is paid to eligible owners of pharmacies approved under section 90 of the National Health Act 1953.
The allowance is calculated each year based on the remoteness of the pharmacy according to the Pharmacy Accessibility Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) and the level of PBS and RPBS claims paid by the Department of Human Services (Human Services).
The PhARIA is effective for the allowance year. It is revised each year based on new pharmacy locations as at 31 March. Any changes to categories will be included in the annual revision of the allowance.
For more information about PhARIA visit the GISCA website.
The PhARIA was updated on 1 July 2012.
The RPMA is available for pharmacies located in PhARIA 2-6 locations who meet eligibility requirements of the program. This will ensure the program continues to help strengthen and support rural pharmacy, and increase access to quality pharmacy services for patients in rural and remote Australia.
The Department of Health and Ageing and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia will continue to monitor the impact of the PhARIA changes to RPMA eligibility.
Temporary support for pharmacies who became ineligible on 1 July 2012 is no longer available.
To be eligible for the full RPMA payment, the pharmacy owner must have:
- approval for the pharmacy premises under section 90 of the National Health Act 1953
- a prescription volume under the upper limit of the RPMA payment matrix
- the pharmacy open, with a pharmacist in attendance, for a minimum of:
- 20 hours each week
- four days each week, and
- 48 weeks each allowance year.
The pharmacy must be located in one of the following PhARIA categories:
- PhARIA 2 Accessible group 1
- PhARIA 3 Accessible group 2
- PhARIA 4 Moderately accessible
- PhARIA 5 Remote
- PhARIA 6 Very remote.
Human Services can ask for proof of the pharmacy's operating hours and that a pharmacist was in attendance during operating hours. If either of these requirements hasn’t been met, or the certification statement is not provided, no further payment(s) will be made.
To receive RPMA payments the pharmacy's owner must:
- maintain the minimum agreed trading hours with a pharmacist in attendance
- provide an application and certification statement confirming the:
- minimum agreed trading hours with a pharmacist in attendance were met, and
- the pharmacy will continue to meet the minimum agreed trading hours with a pharmacist in attendance for the next 12 months.
Human Services must receive a certification statement no later than 14 May each year to make payments from the beginning of the next financial year.
If the pharmacy's normal hours are less than the minimum, the owner can write to Human Services for an assessment of eligibility under special circumstances. This assessment is based on how appropriate the service is for the community.
Pharmacies approved under special circumstances will get a percentage of the 'standard' payment for the appropriate PhARIA category, determined by the agreed hours of operation for the allowance period.
To receive RPMA payments, you need to send Human Services an application and certification statement specifying the:
- pharmacy’s advertised hours of operation
- pharmacist’s intention to comply with the hours of operation and for a pharmacist to be in attendance during these hours, for the next 12 months
- estimated prescription volume—this will be reviewed by Human Services after six months.
RPMA is not transferable and payments will stop if the pharmacy's section 90 approval number changes or becomes inactive. If a new approval number is issued for a pharmacy, the owner will need to reapply for the allowance.
If the pharmacy has changed its approval number during the assessment period, the application and certification statement should:
- confirm hours of operation for the current approval number
- indicate the pharmacist’s intention to comply with these hours of operation for next 12 months.
A pharmacy is entitled to the payments once approved, as long as they maintain eligibility for the rest of the financial year—starting from the first day of the month after the pharmacy is approved for RPMA.
The RPMA is calculated from 1 July each year and paid monthly.
The allowance for each PhARIA category is calculated using the RPMA payment matrix. Payment levels are calculated using the median PBS and RPBS prescription volume for all Australian pharmacies during the relevant assessment year.
RPMA payment matrix 2012–13
Prescription volume range
|Accessible (group 1)||Accessible (group 2)||Moderately accessible||Remote||Very remote|
Median script volume: 29 978 per year
The 'assessment year' for allowance years (starting 1 July each year) will be the 12 months from 1 April to 31 March immediately before the allowance year.
Pharmacies that have been trading with their current section 90 approval number for a continuous period of less than three months in the assessment period will receive the standard payment for their Pharmacy ARIA category (see RPMA payment matrix).
The pharmacy owner can have their allowance assessed against their previous approval number if the pharmacy needs a new approval number due to a:
- change in ownership or partnership
- temporary change in location, for example, refurbishment of premises
- relocation of the pharmacy according to ACPA guidelines—this may be either a short or a long relocation, or
- break in trading of less than two months
The pharmacy owner must provide evidence of the previous allocated approval number(s) and reasons for the new approval number being issued.
If a pharmacy has been actively trading with the current section 90 approval number continuously for three to 12 months in the assessment period, the pharmacy’s monthly PBS and RPBS claims will be used to calculate an annual prescription volume. This means the RPMA payment can be calculated using the matrix.
The allowance is revised annually using updated:
- pharmacy ARIA values
- payment matrix
- PBS and RPBS prescription volume data for the assessment year to 31 March.
Pharmacies receiving RPMA will be need to complete relevant sections of the certification statement to reapply. They need to send Human Services a certification statement between 1 April and 14 May each year. Note: retrospective payments won’t be made.
Human Services will let pharmacies know of any changes to their payments.
Each pharmacy needs to complete an application and certification statement. If an application for RPMA has been unsuccessful, or the allowance has been discontinued, the pharmacy owner can reapply for the RPMA.
- Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Agreement (RPMA) Application Form [PDF, 179Kb]
- Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Agreement (RPMA) Certification Statement [PDF, 170Kb]
Send the completed certification statement and/or application form and supporting documentation to:
Community Pharmacy Agreement Officer
Pharmaceutical Benefits Branch
Department of Human Services
GPO Box 9826
Adelaide SA 5001
Call: 08 8274 9641*
Fax: 08 8274 9373*
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Last updated: 15 May, 2013