Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS or AHS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

RAAHS provide health care and free medicine without a prescription to eligible patients in remote areas.

Patients of approved Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services, also known as Aboriginal Health Services or AHS, can get free Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines from an AHS without a prescription. This is provided under section 100 of the National Health Act 1953. Patients can still get medicines by taking a prescription to a pharmacy under standard PBS arrangements.

The Department of Health approves AHS participation. There are currently 166 approved AHS clinics. We provide AHS clinics with a registration number following approval. The registration number must be included on all correspondence, including requests for pharmaceutical supplies.

Aboriginal Health Service eligibility

To be eligible, an AHS must:

  • meet health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
  • operate a clinic or health care facility where medicines are supplied to patients in a remote zone as defined in the Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas Classification, 1991 Census Edition
  • not be part of an arrangement, such as a coordinated care trial, for which PBS funds have already been provided
  • employ or be in a contractual relationship with health professionals who are qualified to supply all medicines covered by these arrangements
  • make sure all medicines are supplied under the direction of those health professionals
  • have storage facilities that:
    • prevent access by unauthorised people
    • maintain the quality of the medicine, for example, chemical and biological stability and sterility
    • comply with any special conditions specified by the manufacturer of the medicine

You can check if your AHS is in a remote zone using the Rural, Remote and Metropolitan Areas search on the Health Workforce Queensland website.

Pharmacy eligibility

Pharmacies approved under section 90 or section 94 may provide an AHS with PBS medicines under these arrangements. Further approval isn't required from us or the Department of Health.

The supplying pharmacy services should include:

  • medicine management
  • training of Aboriginal Health Workers in the handling of medicines
  • supervision of medicines held by remote communities, such as out-of-date stock

We no longer administer the Support Allowance (Aboriginal Health Services S100) Incentive payments.

For more information, go to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.

Guidelines and standards for pharmacists

For guidelines and standards for pharmacists providing pharmacy services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services go to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

How to order supplies of PBS medicines

An approved AHS must choose an approved supplier to provide PBS medicines. The approved supplier is a community or hospital pharmacy that is authorised to supply PBS medicines.

Each participating AHS will keep a stock of PBS medicines, ordered on a bulk supply basis from an approved supplier, to dispense as needed.

Requests for PBS medicines must be submitted to the approved supplier on an Aboriginal Health Services (AHS) pharmaceutical supplies request form. The approved supplier will claim reimbursement from us using the completed order form. If an approved supplier doesn't request an order using the approved form, PBS medicines can't be supplied.

Electronic order form

An approved AHS can develop an electronic order form to suit their operational needs. When you are developing an electronic form, it should reflect the style of our existing order forms.

The form must display:

  • the name of the AHS
  • the AHS registration number
  • details of the approved supplier

To request the development of an electronic approval form email us.

If an electronic form is used to order PBS medicines, the Aboriginal Health Services (AHS) pharmaceutical supplies request form must be used as a cover sheet. You must have all the necessary details and declarations completed in the form.

Medicines not available under Aboriginal Health Service arrangements

The following medicines aren't available under AHS arrangements:

  • extemporaneously prepared items
  • highly specialised drugs
  • emergency drug (doctor’s bag) supplies
  • Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme medicines
  • Schedule 8 medicines as defined by the drugs and poisons legislation in the relevant state or territory

Schedule 8 or extemporaneously prepared medicine must be prescribed on an approved prescription form and dispensed under standard PBS arrangements.

For a detailed listing of medicines available under the PBS, go to the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits on the Department of Health website.

Completing an order form

The following details must be provided on the order form:

  • AHS registration number
  • AHS community name and address
  • name and signature of the authorised person requesting pharmaceutical supplies. An authorised person is a health professional who is employed or contracted by the AHS and is qualified to supply all medicines covered by these arrangements

The responsibility for completing the columns on the form is as per the below table.

Column AHS Approved supplier

1 - serial number

Identifies how many items are listed in the claim for payment to be lodged with us.

No Yes

2 - code

Identifies the PBS medicine using the item code from the Schedule.

Yes No

3 - manufacturer’s code

Identifies the brand of PBS medicine using the manufacturer's code from the Schedule. If a generic brand is suitable, the manufacturer's code can be left blank.

Yes No

4 - descriptions of goods: item, form and strength

Describes the PBS medicine. The approved supplier can use this information to confirm that the item code matches the description. The description must contain enough detail for the item to be identified.

For example

Item name Form Strength
Amoxycillin Capsule 500 mg
Yes No

5 - quantity required

To order the quantity required. Under the arrangements, medicines are ordered in multiples of the PBS maximum quantity, as set out in the Schedule.

For example, if the medicine has a PBS maximum quantity of 30 capsules and the AHS needs 90 capsules total, the quantity required for supply is 3. Broken packs can't be ordered.

Yes No

6 - quantity supplied

To confirm the quantity supplied to the AHS. If the quantity ordered is different from the quantity supplied, the variation is shown in this column.

No Yes

Approved supplier’s claims for payment

Approved suppliers should bundle claim packages by community name. Where there are multiple supply dates for a single community, claims should be sorted by date order.

When completing a claim, the approved supplier must provide the following details:

  • serial number
  • the number of maximum quantities supplied
  • pharmacy approval number
  • pharmacy name and address
  • the date and signature of the pharmacist

For each medicine supplied to an approved AHS under these arrangements, the approved supplier gets a reimbursement that is the sum of:

  • the approved price to pharmacist
  • a mark-up, as appropriate for the cost of the item
  • a handling fee of $3.00

The cost of transportation and cold chain maintenance required to ensure uninterrupted cold storage is included in the reimbursement formula.

Section 100 handling fee increase

The section 100 handling fee is paid to pharmacies supplying medicines in bulk to remote AHS under section 100 of the National Health Act 1953.

On 1 July 2017, the handling fee increased from $2.96 to $3.00 for each pharmaceutical benefit supplied on or after 1 July 2017.

Payments to Aboriginal Health Services

To register or update your bank account details for AHS payments, complete the Notification of Bank Account Details for Aboriginal Health Services program payments form.

All payments for AHS claims will be made by electronic funds transfer. You must send completed claims for payment to us by email or mail to:

Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
Department of Human Services
PO Box 9826
Brisbane QLD 4001

More information

For more information about eligibility criteria and approval of AHS, contact the Department of Health.

For more information about claiming and the supply of PBS medicines, or to order extra forms, contact us.

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Page last updated: 28 September 2017