People in the New England will have greater access to telehealth services as part of the 2021-22 Budget, with the Australian Government investing more than $114 million to extend the program until the end of the year.
Telehealth items were rapidly implemented in March 2020 to ensure our primary care sector could continue to function and that Australians could continue to access important health services.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce welcomed the Government’s commitment to patients in his electorate.
“In the last 12 months, telehealth services have been life changing for many in need of support who couldn’t access their doctor through the usual means,” Mr Joyce said.
“The extension will ensure that people in the New England can continue to see their GP, renew scripts and seek mental health support from the safety of their own home. This allows vulnerable Australians to feel protected and supported during these unprecedented times.”
From 13 March 2020 to 21 April 2021, more than 54 million COVID-19 MBS telehealth services have been delivered to 13.6 million patients, with $2.9 billion in Medicare benefits paid. More than 83,540 providers have used telehealth services.
The extension of Telehealth includes services for general practitioners, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, participating midwives, allied health providers and dental practitioners.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said Telehealth has played an important role in supporting Australians through the pandemic.
“We recognise that Telehealth continues to play an important role in supporting Australians through the pandemic,” Minister Hunt said. “Which is why as part of the 2021-22 Budget, we are extending Telehealth services to 31 December 2021.”
Mr Joyce said the Telehealth extension complemented the Government’s steadfast commitment to Medicare in the New England.
“The most recent data showed our bulk billing rate at 78.4 per cent, meaning on average nearly eight out of 10 visits to the GP in the New England were provided with no out-of-pocket cost,” Mr Joyce said.
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.