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Health Department, pharmacies at odds over vaccine payments for services provided

File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).

File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA).

Published Oct 28, 2021


DURBAN - THE Independent Community Pharmacy Association South Africa (ICPA) has said the Health Department has been slow to reimburse pharmacies for services rendered during the National Vaccine Rollout Programme.

Jackie Maimin, chief executive of ICPA in an interview with eNCA television news channel, said several independent pharmacies had not yet been reimbursed and they could not afford to carry out free vaccinations to those uninsured.

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Maimin said pharmacists that were ICPA members had, since last year, been given a credit note for each vaccine they had administered.

She said pharmacists should receive R80.50 per vaccine and overhead costs of staff and equipment were piling up, with no payment coming in.

She said: “It costs about R100 000 to administer at least 1 170 doses J&J doses and about R200 000 to administer 2 400 doses. The department is not disputing the admin fee.”

Maimin said some pharmacies, especially those in the rural areas, had overheads of over R1 million and could not carry on incurring the cost.

Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the department was committed to addressing all issues regarding vaccination reimbursement.

Mohale said there has been constant communication with all private service providers (including private pharmacies) since the start of the national vaccination programme.

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“This is the first time that a relationship such as this has ever been embarked upon and the scale is huge.

“There is now agreement on verification and the terms for invoicing and payment. The time period allowed for the claims to medical schemes has also been extended by the Council for Medical Schemes by a further 120 days,” Mohale said.

He said in most cases every effort was being made to expedite the verification of medical scheme membership data and the claims made by each public and private vaccination site for the vaccines received and the vaccination services that they have provided.

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The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department reported yesterday that it had vaccinated more than 3 233 million people of the 7.2 million people it aims to have vaccinated for Covid-19 by December.