More Australians will now be able to access bulk-billed GP services via a video call.
Scott Morrison last week announced a $2.4 billion health plan to protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those with chronic conditions and Indigenous communities.
Via Medicare, Aussies will be able to access:
- Bulk-billed video-conference consultation services, which can be provided by GPs, specialists, consultant physicians, obstetricians, consultant psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, allied mental health workers and midwives, for certain vulnerable people;
- Bulk-billed telephone consultation services which can be provided by GPs, specialists, consultant physicians, obstetricians, consultant psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, allied mental health workers and midwives for certain vulnerable people;
- Bulk-billed pathology services where a medical practitioner has requested a test for SARS-CoV-2 under a new item; and
- Bulk-billed pathology services for a pathologist to test for SARS-CoV-2and relevant respiratory viruses, if the treating practitioner did not request them. On 16 March 2020 it was confirmed that certain services provided by obstetricians and midwives are included in the above, claimable from 13 March 2020
- Changes include the ‘usual GP’ has been expanded to include where there has been a face to face attendance in the previous 12 months with the practitioner or at the practice. The ‘need for a limited examination’ has been removed from the GP and Other Medical Practitioner items.
There are also new bulk-billed video-conference items for GP and other doctors working in general practice to continue to provide certain health services to their patients during the period of their isolation.
Allied health providers with appropriate mental health training who are in isolation for possible COVID-19 infection will also be able to continue to provide mental health services to their patients during the period of their isolation.
Vulnerable/isolated patients are those where at least one of the following apply:
(a) the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but who is not a patient of a hospital; or
(b) the person has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC); or
(c) the person is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being a person who is:(i) at least 70 years old; or
(ii) at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
(iii) is pregnant; or
(iv) is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
(v) is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised; or (d) the person meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.
A health professional at risk for COVID-19 means a person that:
(a) has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but who is not a patient of a hospital; or
(b) has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.