Government urged not to cut telehealth rebates

Phone consultations made up 98 per cent of all telehealth services provided by GPs in 2020-21 (Bigstock)

Doctors say vulnerable patients are at risk of missing out on medical care this winter unless the Albanese Government halts plans to scale back Medicare rebates for telehealth. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the Government was seeking advice about “options to extend” rebates for longer phone consultations, which are due to expire on June 30 under a policy of the former Morrison government.

Dozens of telehealth rebates are due to be abolished on July 1, including phone consultations of more than 20 minutes with a GP, initial consultations with a specialist and some disability and mental health services.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price called on the Government to make longer telephone consultations with GPs “a permanent fixture of telehealth” to ensure that patients with complex needs can access the care they need.

Adjunct Professor Price said “removing Medicare rebates for longer phone consultations is particularly detrimental for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older patients, people with disability, and those living in rural and remote areas, who already have poorer health outcomes”.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said patients “cannot afford to lose access to COVID-19 telehealth as it will make access to medical care more difficult, particularly for vulnerable populations”.

Phone consultations made up 98 per cent of all telehealth services provided by GPs in 2020-21.

FULL STORY

Future of telehealth uncertain as doctors call for Medicare rebates to be locked in (By Dana Daniel, Sydney Morning Herald

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