The federal health minister, Mark Butler, announced on Thursday he would go ahead with a decision of the former government to end a range of telehealth services on 30 June – despite acknowledging the challenges arising from the current wave of the Covid pandemic. MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, participating midwives, allied health providers and dental practitioners in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery.
More than 70 different telehealth-related consultations have been cut, including 33 initial and complex specialist items and 40 specialist inpatient items. The decision has many confused about what exactly is staying and what is going.
While most of the cuts are Covid and pandemic related the confusion has been around GP consultations and allied health appointments. It also mostly applies to telephone consults and in most cases video consults are still available.
- GP and OMP telephone items for consultations longer than 20 minutes ceased June 30th. Video appointments longer than 20 minutes will still be available.
- The Government has indicated they intend to pause the proposed new prescribed pattern of service (a ‘30/20 rule’) for telephone attendances provided by consultant physicians and GPs. It is now intended this rule will be paused and will be recommenced on 1 October 2022. The rule relates to number to Telehealth consults per 12 months for GP’s.
- All Medicare eligible Australians can receive eligible Telehealth services if they have an established clinical relationship with a GP, OMP, or a medical practice.
The established relationship requirement does not apply to:
• children under the age of 12 months;
• people who are homeless;
• patients receiving an urgent after-hours (unsociable hours) service; or
• patients of medical practitioners at an Aboriginal Medical Service or an Aboriginal Community
Controlled Health Service; or
• people who are in a COVID-19 Commonwealth declared hotspot, until 31 December 2021; or
• people isolating because of a COVID-related State or Territory public health order, or in COVID-19
quarantine because of a State or Territory public health order; or
• people living in a flood-affected area, defined as a State or Territory local government area which is
currently declared as a natural disaster area due to flood by a State or Territory Government.
AND patients accessing specific MBS items for:
• blood borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health consultations; and
• pregnancy counselling services;
• mental health services; and
• nicotine and smoking cessation counselling
• All providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to charging private
fees for telehealth services.
- All Allied Health and Mental health services both phone and video remains unchanged.
You can download the Telehealth Fact sheets here
(correct as of July 5th 2022)