AMA welcomes Medicare-funded telehealth as a permanent part of the health system

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, has welcomed the Government’s announcement that telehealth will be permanently funded through Medicare. The AMA has been advocating for this over many years and believes that this will be of benefit to all Australians.

For GPs, the telehealth arrangements introduced on 1 July 2021, including short and longer telephone items, will continue to be available subject to some changes detailed in the fact sheets at the link below. Telehealth services will also count towards the calculation of Practice Incentives Program (PIP) and the Workforce Incentive Program - Practice Stream (WIP) payments.

“Ongoing telehealth has been locked into our health care system for both GP and non-GP specialist services. This will ensure Australia’s healthcare system continues to be one of the most equitable and effective systems around the world,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, explains.

“These arrangements have been embraced by both doctors and patients, with telehealth giving people access to care while reducing community transmission of the virus.

“We know just how critical it is to ensure practices can remain open during the pandemic and telehealth, combined with adequate provision of personal protective equipment to medical practices are key to continuing to provide services for patients.”

Dr Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

“A face-to-face visit to a doctor will still remain an essential part of our health system. However, Medicare was established in 1984 well before people had access to mobile phones or video conferencing and expanding access to telehealth is an overdue reform, which brings Medicare into the 21st century,” Dr Khorshid added.

The AMA fought very hard for a fair and workable package for GPs, pushing back against early proposals from the Department of Health that would have significantly curtailed access for patients. While the final position reached by the Government did not satisfy all of the AMA’s requests, it represents a significant step forward when compared to what existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MBS Telehealth Services fact sheets

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