News ~ New Medicare Items for Psych Services

New Medicare items available to all Australians

People affected by bushfires can access mental health treatment without a referral or mental health treatment plan from 17 January 2020. Consultations may be in person or via Telehealth or Video Conferencing. Also, in order to access these services, it is not necessary that you were actually in a fire.

Many people have been affected by the fires due to the media coverage and perceiving or experiencing the threat of fire. The phenomenon of the fires can also make existing mental health conditions and issues worse. These items are available to support people in any of these circumstances.

Upwey Psychology provides Telehealth or Video Conferencing Sessions. The New Medicare Items do not have any restriction on area, post code or geography. Please click on the link to learn more.

You’ll be able to claim these items from 17 January 2020 to 31 December 2021.

Why are the changes being made?

The new mental health services are designed to provide immediate assistance to firefighters, emergency personnel, individuals and communities that are impacted by the ongoing bushfire disaster. They are the second phase of the Australian Government’s response to the mental health impact of bushfire, building upon the GP mental health and well-being telehealth services for bushfire-affected patients introduced on 10 January 2020.

What about the existing Better Access to Mental Health Care Program?

Medicare rebates for the new medicare items are available for up to 10 individual mental health services in a calendar year. This quota may consist of any combinations of services.

You are not required to have a diagnosed mental health condition, GP mental health treatment plan or referral prior to requesting these services. You may also self-identify as being affected by bushfire and request a service.

Mental health services received under the Bushfire Response do not count against your quota of services under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative (for eligible Better Access patients).

What about TeleHealth and Video Conferencing?

You can also access the services via video conference are not required to have an existing relationship with the treating practitioner. In addition, no minimum distance requirement applies to these video conference services.

Medical and allied health practitioners will have greater flexibility to provide services to patients whose mental health is affected by bushfire. This includes more accessible telehealth services to overcome disruptions to transport and workforce arrangements.

The services are available to anyone whose mental health has been affected by the bushfire crisis, and are not restricted to people living in areas directly affected by bushfire.

For further information, please click on the links below …

NEW MEDICARE ITEMS Department of Human Services
MBS Online ~ Mental Health Services for Bushfire Response
Australian Government Mental Health Response to Bushfire Trauma ~ Department of Health

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