The Federal Government will extend subsidised telehealth sessions for an extra six months, as part of a $2 billion top up to keep COVID-19 health measures going during the pandemic.
- The telehealth scheme was due to finish at the end of this month
- More than $600 million was initially set aside for it by the Government in March
- The Prime Minister said the extra money brings the Commonwealth’s investment in coronavirus health responses to $16.5 billion
The additional funding will ensure Medicare-subsidised telehealth for general practitioners, nursing, midwifery, allied health and allied mental health services will continue until 31 March 2021.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the scheme, implemented when the pandemic first took hold, has been a “revolution in health delivery”.
“It was borne from necessity but it’s delivered better health care for over 30 million consultations so far,” Mr Hunt said.
“In particular we know it’s been used for over 18 million regular consultations by general practitioners.
More than $600 million was initially set aside by the Government in March to expand Medicare subsidies for telehealth services, allowing Australians to have consultations with a range of health professionals via video and phone rather than attend appointments in person.
The scheme was due to lapse at the end of September.
Telehealth for “essential specialist services”, such as consultant physician, geriatrician, and neurosurgery services, will also continue with bulk billing and regular billing practices to apply.
Mr Hunt said the package would also support the maintenance of other coronavirus health measures.
“There will be support for home medicine delivery, continued free COVID-19 pathology tests, as well as further personal protective equipment, respiratory clinics and the state and private hospital partnership agreement,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the extra money brings the Commonwealth’s investment in COVID-19 health responses to $16.5 billion.
“By providing telehealth and home delivery medicine services we are reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the community while also supporting people in isolation to get the care they need.”