New statewide co-payment medication subsidy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

A new statewide medication co-payment subsidy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients will be introduced across all public hospitals in Queensland in an effort for improved health outcomes and closing the gap measures.

The new co-payment subsidy is modelled from the successful ‘Better Together Medication Access Program (BTMA)’ introduced at Metro North Health in 2020, which initially covered discharge prescription medications. The program has since been associated with a 50 percent decrease in re-admission rates for self-identified consumers, at a minimal financial cost to the HHS.

Patients that identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin upon admission to a Metro North Health hospital or facility are given the choice to opt-in to the BTMA program. If they do so, their medication prescription can be taken to a Metro North Health pharmacy, where the medication is supplied with no out of pocket cost to the patient.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Executive Director, Sherry Holzapfel, said since introduced, BTMA has been accessed 5700 times on discharge – an average of 5 discharges a day across Metro North Health.

“Over 18,000 medication items have been covered under BTMA. The program is a great example of how, through innovative, system enhancements and investments, we can have a profound impact on improving the long-term health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“All-cause readmissions to hospital within 28 days of discharge has dropped by 50% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients since the program was implemented and this has been a sustained reduction over the years.

“This is suggestive of patients being kept healthier for longer after discharge, and therefore not needing to come back to hospital,” said Sherry.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020-2022 data shows there is still a significant life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Queenslanders, a gap of 7.4 years for males and 7.0 years for females. With a fundamental divide between the health outcomes and life expectancy, the new statewide co-payment subsidy aims to contribute to the closing of the life expectancy gap and increase of positive outcomes.

From 25 January, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers of Queensland Health (QH) will have access to medications dispensed by QH public hospital pharmacies. In Metro North, BTMA will be expanded to include outpatient prescription medications.

HHSs will waive, in full, co-payments for all medicines prescribed by Queensland Health prescribers on hospital prescriptions, when dispensed by hospital pharmacies, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients:

  • upon discharge, following an admitted episode of care, including presentation for emergency care; and
  • whilst under the care or treatment of a Queensland Health specialist outpatient service, where the patient cannot readily access their medicines from a community pharmacy.

Further information regarding the Metro North Health BTMA program and supporting educational films can be accessed via

2024-02-22T10:59:58+10:0022 February 2024|
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