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We are living through extraordinary times. The impact of COVID-19 has reached every corner of Victoria, Australia, and the world. We are all dealing with a new way of living and working with social distancing.

The changes to MBS telehealth items, PIP QI funding, digital referrals, e-prescribing and other Government initiatives have provided new ways to help protect our clinicians and the community.

 

What are the new telehealth rules?

One of the critical changes is the expansion of the Medical Benefits Schedule to include temporary telehealth item numbers that are available from 13 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 (inclusive).

On 29 March 2020, the Minister for Health announced that telehealth services would be expanded to all Australians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Whole of population’ telehealth services were introduced on 30 March 2020.

From 6 April 2020, it is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services must be bulk billed for:

  • Commonwealth concession card holders
  • Children under 16 years old
  • Patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.[1]

Health providers may apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for all other patients (i.e. those who are not concession card holders, aged under 16 or considered at risk of COVID-19).

Telehealth may only be used where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.

Please note that this information is accurate as of this date. Information is updated regularly in fact sheets available at http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/Factsheet-TempBB

Please continue to check MBS Online (www.mbsonline.gov.au) regularly for any further announcements.

 

What does it mean for you for your placement as a locum?

As always, please contact the practice directly before starting your placement to confirm arrival, and to re-confirm locum placement details. This discussion should include telehealth arrangements at the practice, and any support you may require during the placement.

[1]Patient at risk of COVID-19 virus’ means a person who:

  1. is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in relation to COVID-19; or
  2. is at least 70 years old; or
  3. if the person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent—is at least 50 years old; or
  4. is pregnant; or
  5. is the parent of a child aged under 12 months; or
  6. is being treated for a chronic health condition; or
  7. is immune compromised; or
  8. meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.