Three Weeks Until Telehealth Trouble

Concerns are growing for healthcare in Central Victoria with temporary telehealth measures introduced by the Government for the COVID-19 pandemic due to expire on September 30. 
Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters is calling on the Government to urgently extend these Medicare Benefits Schedule subsidies.

By the Minister for Health’s own words, these measures were introduced “to ensure Australians have access to the healthcare services they need through the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“Ive had GP’s and patients contacting me who are concerned that this is going to end with no replacement,” Chesters said.

“The pandemic isn’t over. And until we have a vaccine for COVID-19 we need to ensure the continuation of health care for Central Victorians and protect the safety of our health care workers.

“Without telehealth, people would either abandon their healthcare or risk turning up to a clinic and spreading the virus.”

Data released by the Australian Department of Health showed that the total number consultations delivered by GPs, specialists and allied health professionals came to over 1.4 million COVID-19 video consultations and 16 million COVID-19 phone consultations from March to June.
Numbers also released by the Department confirmed that 44 per cent of mental health consultations funded by Medicare during the same period were conducted over telehealth.
“Telehealth has played a critically important role in managing Australian’s physical and mental health during this pandemic,” Chesters said.
Along with the extension of the telehealth rebates, the Government should extend the MBS rebates for COVID-19 pathology tests beyond September 30.
The Government must do the right thing and extend these measures.