The Morrison Government is extending telehealth consultations for Australians in COVID-19 hotspots, ensuring they can continue to access their GP and look after their health.
From 16 July 2021, two new Medicare telephone items will be available for GPs and other medical practitioner services for patients living in hotspots as declared by the Chief Medical Officer. The new items will enable doctors to provide longer telephone consultations, lasting 20 minutes or more.
The move is in response to the current COVID-19 situation in NSW and the prospect of a prolonged hotspot declaration in Greater Sydney.
The items are also available to patients in other locations who are required to quarantine or isolate under a public health order, including Australians who may have travelled through or from a hotspot location.
Telehealth has played an important role in supporting Australians through the pandemic and these new items mean Australians can continue to see their GP, renew scripts and seek mental health support from the safety of their own home.
The items are exempt from the normal telehealth requirement that the patient has received a face-to-face consultation from the providing doctor or another doctor at the same practice in the last 12 months, although they are still encouraged to do so wherever possible.
This responds to calls from the AMA and RACGP to provide targeted assistance to GPs and patients affected by health orders, which limit movement in the community.
The fees for the new items are equivalent to existing Level C face-to-face appointments. This means that Medicare will provide the patient a rebate of $75.75 for a GP service.
The Government continues to work with peak bodies to co-design permanent post pandemic telehealth as part of broader primary care reforms to modernise Medicare and provide flexibility of access to primary and allied healthcare services.