The Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance Program is aimed at supporting access to PBS medicines and pharmacy services for people living in rural areas by providing financial support to eligible pharmacy owners in regional, rural and remote areas.

The Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) consists of a monthly Allowance paid to eligible proprietors of Section 90 Approved Pharmacies. RPMA aims to maintain equitable and sustainable access to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines, and pharmacy services for Patients in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia, through supporting the pharmacy network.

Applicants for the RPMA must meet the following Eligibility Criteria from 1 January 2021:

  • Be approved as a Section 90 Pharmacy under the National Health Act 1953
  • Have a prescription volume under the upper limit of the RPMA Payment Matrix
  • Be located in a Modified Monash Model (MMM) category 3 to 7. Information on MMM locations can be found on the Department of Health’s website Department of Health’s website
  • Trade and be accessible to Patients with a Registered Pharmacist in attendance, for a minimum of:
    • 20 hours each week
    • 4 days each week
    • 48 weeks each allowance year.

Applying for the First Time

If you are applying for the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance for the first time, please submit a new application via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal.

Eligible Community Pharmacies only need to apply for the RPMA once. The allowance is then renewed each financial year (see Annual Renewal below). The RPMA payment schedules are based on information in the application and renewal.

 

Annual Renewal

To continue receiving payments under the RPMA Program, a Community Pharmacy must submit an annual renewal via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal that includes re-certification of eligibility. The renewal must be submitted by 14 June for the allowance year beginning the following 1 July.

The RPMA provides annual allowances to regional, rural and remote pharmacies which apply and satisfy the eligibility criteria. The amount that a pharmacy is eligible to receive depends on their annual volume of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions and the rurality of their locality according to the MMM The RPMA is calculated annually, and is based on the Community Pharmacy’s MMM category, and the total volume of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions dispensed each year. Community Pharmacies located in MMM category 3 will receive the base payment rate only. Community Pharmacies located in MMM categories 4 to 7 will receive a variable rate in addition to the base rate.

Successful applicants who meet the Eligibility Criteria under the RPMA are entitled to payments according to the RPMA payment matrix.

Payments are made for the first month after the Pharmacy submits an application for the RPMA, and for each subsequent month during the financial year as long as the Pharmacy maintains its eligibility.

Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance FAQ

  1. From 1 January 2021 until the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Pharmacies will be paid based on the new MMM RPMA payment matrix below. Please note the payment matrix shows annual payment amounts. Pharmacies will therefore only receive half of this amount for the remaining half of the 2020/21 financial year.

    MMM Category

    Prescription volume ranges 3
    (Inner Regional)
    4
    (Outer Regional)
    5
    (Rural)
    6
    (Remote)
    7
    (Very Remote)
    0 – 21,893 $3,000 $15,082 $27,164 $39,246 $51,328
    21,894 – 43,786 $3,000 $13,356 $23,712 $34,068 $44,424
    43,787 – 54,733 $3,000 $11,630 $20,260 $28,890 $37,520
    54,734 – 65,679 $3,000 $9,904 $16,808 $23,712 $30,616
    65,680 – 76,626 $3,000 $8,178 $13,356 $18,534 $23,712
    76,627 – 87,572 $3,000 $6,452 $9,904 $13,356 $16,808
    87,573 – 98,519 $3,000 $4,726 $6,452 $8,178 $9,904

     

  2. No. Your annual payment amount is divided by 12 and paid monthly in arrears for the remainder of the financial year. Please note with the transition to MMM the new MMM payment matrix shows annual payment amounts. This means for the remainder of the 2020/21 financial year you will only receive half of the figure shown in the updated payment matrix, split into monthly payments.

  3. Refer to the Portal User Guide -RPMA, available from the Downloads section of this page.

  4. The MMM is a geographical classification that categorises different areas in Australia into seven remoteness categories. It was developed to better target health workforce programs to attract health professionals to more remote and smaller communities. The MMM classifies metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas according to geographical remoteness, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and town size.

    For further information, please refer to the MMM factsheet at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/modified-monash-model-fact-sheet

  5. In 2015, the Department of Health introduced the MMM classification system as it better targets health workforce programs by categorising metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas according to both geographical remoteness, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and town size.

    The Department of Health began transitioning Commonwealth health programs to the new MMM classification system from 1 January 2020.

    The decision to adopt the use of MMM for the RPMA program from 1 January 2021 to ensure greater support for regional, rural and remote pharmacies was made by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

    Further information on the MMM rural classification system can be found here: https://www.rdaa.com.au/documents/item/740 and https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2019/12/modified-monash-model—fact-sheet.pdf.

  6. The MMM 2019 was updated on 1 July 2019 and is calculated using the latest available Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) Census data and geographic information. The MMM measures remoteness and population size on a scale of Modified Monash (MM) category MM 1 to MM 7. MM 1 is a major city and MM 7 is very remote.

  7. MMM classifications are based on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard – Remoteness Areas framework and applies additional modifiers to the inner and outer regional categories based on the road distance to population centres of between 50,000 and 5,000.

    Unlike the previously used Pharmacy Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) rural classification system, MMM does not take into account the location or number of pharmacies in its calculation. It also does not factor in boundaries of a town, like PhARIA did. MMM is instead based purely on the road distance from an individual street address to the nearest service centre(s). This is a significant shift in how rural areas are classified for the pharmacy sector.

    It is possible for a pharmacy on one side of town to have a different MM category to another pharmacy on the other side of town. This is due to a difference in road distance to the nearest major town with a population of: greater 50,000 (MM 2); between 15,000 and 50,000 (MM 3); and between 5,000 and 15,000 (MM4).

  8. MMM classifications are based on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard – Remoteness Areas framework and applies additional modifiers to the inner and outer regional categories based on the road distance to population centres of between 50,000 and 5,000.

    Unlike the previously used Pharmacy Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) rural classification system, MMM does not take into account the location or number of pharmacies in its calculation. It also does not factor in boundaries of a town, like PhARIA did. MMM is instead based purely on the road distance from an individual street address to the nearest service centre(s). This is a significant shift in how rural areas are classified for the pharmacy sector.

    It is important to note that MMM is not based on population size alone. Whilst there may be other towns with a similar or greater population which are allocated to an equal or greater rural MMM category, the distance to the nearest populous service centres of these towns is significantly further away. It is this distance which determines the allocated MM category.

  9. In January 2021, all Pharmacies with an existing RPMA application were reassessed for RPMA eligibility based on their MMM category.

    If your pharmacy still met RPMA eligibility criteria based on the new rural classification model, your January payment will be paid based on the new RPMA Payment Matrix published in the updated RPMA Program Rules.

    During the transition to the MMM classification model, all pharmacies with an existing RPMA application were contacted by the PPA on behalf of the Department of Health with advice on what the transition means for them.

  10. From 1 January 2021, Pharmacies located in MMM categories 3 to 7 may be eligible to receive the RPMA.

  11. Your pharmacy’s MMM category can be viewed on the Australian Government’s Health Workforce Locator website: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/health-workforce-locator/health-workforce-locator.

    Click on the MMM 2019 tickbox in the Classification Filter, type in your Pharmacy’s address and click Search Location.  Your MMM category will be displayed underneath your address and also on the map.

     

  12. Pharmacies in a MMM 2 category location are considered highly accessible, as they are located in areas with large clusters of pharmacies. As it is considered that there are no issues around patients’ ability to access PBS medicines and pharmacy services through pharmacies, the Department of Health have made the policy decision that these pharmacies are not eligible to receive the allowance.

  13. Pharmacies in a MMM 3 category location are considered highly accessible, as they are located in areas with large clusters of eight or more pharmacies. As it is considered that there are no issues around patients’ ability to access PBS medicines and pharmacy services through pharmacies, these pharmacies do not receive the additional variable payment.

  14. Although the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement committed to increasing RPMA funding by 10% in the first financial year, the change from the PhARIA rural classification system to the MMM rural classification system means an approximate 400 additional pharmacies will become eligible for the RPMA Program. The number of pharmacies eligible for the Program is therefore increasing by around 50%.

    Further information on how the Payment Matrix has been calculated can also be found in the Department of Health’s Factsheet on RPMA Payment Matrix found in the Program Rules and Other Downloads section below.

  15. No. A pharmacy’s MMM category cannot be changed.

  16. The MMM is updated after each Census. The 2015 MMM was derived from 2011 ABS Census data.

    The current MMM was updated in 2019 using 2016 ABS Census data and geography information.

    The next ABS Census is in August 2021. The MMM will therefore be updated sometime after the 2021 Census. A specific date cannot be provided at this stage

  17. The maximum annual script volume can change from year to year. The RPMA script volume limit is updated at the end of each financial year and can be viewed in the latest RPMA Payment Matrix located at the end of the RPMA Program Rules.

  18. From 1 January 2021, a Pharmacy must:

    1. Be located in a MMM category 3 to 7

    2. Have an annual prescription volume below the maximum limit

    3. Be open with a registered Pharmacist in attendance for at least:

    – 20 hours per week

    – 4 days of each week

    – 48 weeks of each allowance year.

    A Pharmacy cannot include the times if the Pharmacy is open but with no registered Pharmacist in attendance.

  19. The RPMA runs in line with the financial year. The allowance year means 1 July – 30 June.

  20. RPMA payments are made 1 month in arrears. For example, the allowance for July will be paid in August.

  21. You can submit an exceptional circumstances request found here. Details on how to apply can be found in the Program Rules. A case will be presented to the Department of Health who will approve or decline the applications. Approval could result in partial payments.

    Please note, no exceptional circumstances requests will be accepted to change your MMM category.

  22. If you are creating a new Pharmacy Service Provider account in the PPA Portal (i.e. your pharmacy has completely changed ownership) you will be required to submit a new RPMA application.

    If you are eligible, the Pharmacy will receive payment for the month in which you submit your RPMA application (paid in arrears the following month).

    The old owner will not be paid for the same month regardless of when the ownership change occurred during the month.

    Under these circumstances, it will be the responsibility of Community Pharmacy owners to ensure their contracts of sale include provision for sharing the payment or liability on a pro rata basis depending on the day of the month that the Section 90 Approval Number changed.

     

    No partial payments will be allowed for partial months of ownership.

  23. You are required under the Program Rules to inform the Pharmacy Programs Administrator of any change to the Pharmacy that can affect eligibility for any Program within 14 days of the change.

     

    No partial payments will be allowed for partial months of ownership.

    It is therefore the responsibility of Community Pharmacy owners to ensure their contracts of sale include provision for sharing the payment or liability on a pro rata basis depending on the day of the month that the Section 90 Approval Number changed.

  24. If eligible, the Pharmacy will receive payment for the first whole month after the RPMA application is submitted via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal.

    For example, if you submit an RPMA application in May you will be eligible for the June payment. This will be paid in arrears in July.

  25. RPMA renewal applications are accepted from 1 May – 14 June each year.

  26. Yes, if you miss the renewal application window you will be required to submit a new RPMA application (rather than renewal) on the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal. No back payment of months missed will be allowed.

  27. A renewal is only allowed when the same Pharmacy, with the same PPA Portal Service Provider account received the RPMA Allowance the previous year. This form is due between 1 May and 14 June each year. On all other occasions a new application needs to be submitted.

  28. Inform the Pharmacy Programs Administrator as soon as possible. Failure to inform the Pharmacy Programs Administrator within 14 days of a change in eligibility may result in payments being recovered from you.