Government agrees to AMA proposal for MBS Telehealth extension

Temporary Medicare rebates for COVID-19 telehealth consultations will be extended for a further six months to support patients and medical practices during the global health pandemic. 

The AMA proposed the introduction of telehealth items earlier this year as part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle COVID-19 and has worked behind the scenes for them to be extended beyond their original 30 September expiry date. 

“With Australia still in the midst of a global pandemic, it is essential for telehealth to be continued as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. 

“These telehealth items have supported the provision of care during these very difficult times and have been embraced by patients and doctors alike. 

“The AMA wants to see telehealth become a permanent part of the health system, and this has been backed by the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology. 

Dr Khorshid highlighted that the announcement means that medical practices can now start planning appointments beyond the end of this month, knowing that these items remain in place.  

The AMA also welcomes the decision to allow GPs to apply their usual fee schedule to telehealth services from 1 October. Dr Khorshid emphasised that GPs have a long history of looking after patients in difficult financial circumstances and this decision will not change that approach. 

“The AMA remains in discussions with the Federal Government about the long-term future of Medicare-funded telehealth. Telehealth is working very well and, now that we have this extension in place, we have time to finalise the future of telehealth in Australia, Dr Khorshid said.  

Read the full media release here 

Summary of changes for GPs and Other Medical Practitioners  

From 1 October 2020:  

  • GPs and OMPs providing COVID-19 telehealth services are not required to bulk bill their patients. 
  • Temporary MBS COVID-19 bulk billing incentive items 10981 (for GPs) and 10982 (for OMPs) ceased. 
  • The temporary doubling of fees for MBS bulk billing incentive items 10990, 10991, 10992, 64990, 64991, 74990 and 74991 ceased. 

Fact sheets outlining the changes to extended COVID-19 telehealth MBS items can be accessed here 

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