Labour motion defeated

So surprise surprise the Labour Party motion was defeated. I have to say that some of the arguments used against it were so spurious as to call the integrity of those making those arguments into question. The decision of Fine Gael to abstain was strange to say the least. Their main argument seems to be that the bill was flawed. This comes straight from the rear end of a bull. There seems to be a new breed of neo-con in the Fine Gael party that looks for free trade in everything. It throws a new light onto all the promises of support from FG TDs who had been talking to pharmacists all over the country.

You were called up to the mark and you were found wanting!

Apart from that there seemed to be a lot of conciliatory talk so all may not be so bad. I think that a lot of FF TDs are embarrassed by the antics of the HSE and just want it reined in. If this translates to action further down the road remains to be seen.

Labour party motion back on the agenda

The Labour Party has again tabled its bill to amend the Competition Act.  it is to be discussed in private members time next Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th.  The way things go it is likely that the Government will vote this down.  This is not because they don’t agree with it but just because somebody else is doing it.  It might be a bit better if they concentrated on running the country properly and not just saving face.

I intend to be there myself on Wednesday evening.  This is important not just for pharmacy but for all the other professions.  The Competition Act was designed to stop monopoly suppliers abusing a dominant market position.  It is now being used by dominant purchasers to abuse their position by refusing to negotiate on the basis that it might be anti-competitive.

So peace has broken out again

Not so much peace in our time but another ceasefire to allow both sides to re-group. The Dáil (read Fianna Fail, Greens and odd job independents) have voted confidence in Mary Harney’s tenure as Minister for Health. Were they ever going to do anything else? At least Ned O’Keeffe has some balls. Not a lot, he only stood down from the Parliamentary Party and not Fianna Fáil itself.

But it’s only a ceasefire, the cuts have been postponed (no mention until when) and not cancelled. They are back talking with the IPU via the Shipsey process but we have been there before. How are we to trust anything that is agreed this time. They reached agreement so many times only to rip them up the next day. Even if they were to produce a written agreement signed in blood over a stack of bibles in front of a bishop I would still take it with a pinch sack of salt.

I met with some colleagues last night. Out of that meeting the key word to come out was respect. Honest common decency. For the HSE eaten bread is soon forgotten. We got them out of a pickle when we took on the methadone scheme, we have been operating the medical card at break even at best for a long time and now they don’t even reply to or acknowledge our letters. Mary Harney wanted more pharmacies for more competition, she got them. Then what does she do but cut the base out of the business model. Any one in business will tell you that you can’t give stock away at less than cost. You can’t give stock away at break even unless there is some come back some where else. For the GMS at break even the DPS and LTI are the recompense. I like many others did out a business plan when I went to the bank to re-mortgage my home and take out a business loan. That business plan is now meaningless. How many other business people could re-structure their business at less than 3 months notice? This presumes that the business is still viable under the new scheme of things. How many would let their customers dictate what price they are going to pay without any negotiations?

I going to stop now. I’m making myself sick in the stomach the more I write. I want to at least enjoy my tea and sandwich that I will eat at my dispensary counter. For some reason today I don’t have the time to go to Thorntons on the Green for truffles and foie gras washed down with a cheeky burgundy.

Labour Motion Off

The Labour motion for next week that was to be used for an amendment to the Competition Act has not been put back. They are going to use their private members time to table a motion of no confidence in Mary Harney.

😦

It still doesn’t change the chaos that is likely to happen on December 1st.

The Labour Party has tabled a motion in the Dáil for next week. the purpose of the motion is to exempt the state provided health services from the Competition Act. The Dept. of Health and the HSE have always said that the Competition Act stops them from negotiating with pharmacists (and dentist and opticians and doctors). Here is a way out of this for them. Lets see if they really want to talk or is this just another smoke screen.Meanwhile we have come up with another letter for patients, a bit simpler and straight to the point.

The General Medical Services (GMS) & Medical Cards

Currently the H.S.E. pay me for the cost price of your GMS medication , they also pay me a dispensing fee of €3.26 per item dispensed.

So if your medication cost me €50 to purchase from the wholesaler, the HSE would pay me €50 plus a dispensing fee of €3.26.

From 1st December, the HSE propose to reduce the amount paid to me by 8.2%. This would mean that the HSE would only pay me €45.90 for medication which would still cost me €50 to purchase from my wholesaler. The dispensing fee would remain the same.

My concern is that your local pharmacy cannot sustain dispensing GMS prescritpions while each prescription dispensed is losing money.

Please contact your TD’s about this worrying situation.

Sean Ardagh F.F. 01 4568736

Michael Mulcahy F.F. 01 4546223

Mary Upton Lab. 01 6183756

Aengus Ó Snodaigh S.F. 01 6259320

Catherine Byrne F.G. 01 6183083

Revised letter

After a bit of discussion and working out a few we have come up with a revised patient letter. It is quicker to prepare and reads easier.

Dear Customer,

For your prescription today my wholesaler will charge me €……………… The H.S.E. (Medical card) will pay me €…………….. plus a dispensing fee of €3.26 per item.

From December 1st the H.S.E. have decided to pay me €………………….. (cost price less 8%) plus a dispensing fee of €3.26 per item. My wholesaler will still be charging me €……………..

I cannot operate the Medical Card scheme at a loss.

In order to maintain your level of service please contact your local representatives, The H.S.E. And the Minister for Health.

Thank you

David Jordan

Local T.D.s

Sean Ardagh F.F. 01 4568736

Michael Mulcahy F.F. 01 4546223

Mary Upton Lab. 01 6183756

Aengus Ó Snodaigh S.F. 01 6259320

Catherine Byrne F.G. 01 6183083

Mary Harney 01 6354148

Prof. Drumm 01 6352500

Letter for our patients

Below is a copy of a template that I have prepared and printed on headed note paper. Thanks to Geraldine who did up the first draft. I think that it sets out starkly for individual patients how we are going to be affected.

Please feel free to copy & paste and use it yourself. I won’t claim copy right! 🙂

“Dear Customer,

For your prescription today my wholesaler will charge me €……………… The H.S.E. (Medical card) will pay me €…………….. plus a dispensing fee of €3.26 per item which amounts to €………….. for this prescription.

From December 1st the H.S.E. have decided to pay me €………………….. (cost price less 8%) plus a dispensing fee of €3.26 per item which will be €…………….. for your prescription. My wholesaler will still be charging me €……………..

I cannot operate the Medical Card scheme at a loss.

In order to maintain your level of service please contact your local representatives, The H.S.E. And the Minister for Health.

Thank you

Local T.D.s

Sean Ardagh F.F. 01 4568736

Michael Mulcahy F.F. 01 4546223

Mary Upton Lab. 01 6183756

Aengus Ó Snodaigh S.F. 01 6259320

Catherine Byrne F.G. 01 6183083

Mary Harney 01 6354148

Prof. Drumm 01 6352500″