AMA calls on Government to extend COVID-19 telehealth MBS Items until March

13 Aug 2020

The AMA has written to Health Minister Greg Hunt, calling on the Federal Government to extend temporary telehealth arrangements under Medicare that have supported patients to have a consultation with their doctor either over the phone or by video.  

These arrangements, which were put in place as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response, are due to end on 30 September. 

“The AMA has long advocated for Medicare-subsidised telehealth consultations, and the COVID-19 arrangements have shown the value of telehealth,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. 

“They have supported the provision of care during these very difficult times and contributed to efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Telehealth has been embraced by doctors and the public alike.”

Dr Khorshid highlighted that while there was some optimism that Australia may be over the worst of the pandemic by September, it is now clear is this not the case.

“Telehealth remains fundamental to our national efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, and ending the temporary Medicare arrangements in September would be premature,” Dr Khorshid said.

The AMA has been in discussions with the Department of Health about a long-term plan for telehealth in Australia, and has previously applauded the Minister’s commitment to making telehealth a permanent feature of our health system. However, until this long-term plan is finalised, we need a telehealth framework that can operate in the context of a pandemic response.

The AMA has called on the Government to extend support for telehealth until March next year, which aligns with the timing of its JobKeeper program extension. 

Read the full media release here.