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Medicare telehealth items

In 2017, the federal government has announced the introduction of a new Medicare rebate for online videoconferencing consultations with Accredited Mental Health Social Workers. The initiative is the first to be rolled out following the announcement of the Regional Australia Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Prime Minister. The AASW has received confirmation from the Office of the Health Minister that social workers who are currently covered under the FPS (focussed psychology strategies) items are also covered under the new arrangements.

What you need to know about Medicare telehealth items

  • From November 1 2017, people in rural and regional Australia will be able to claim a Medicare rebate for online videoconferencing consultations with psychologists, AMHSWers and other health professionals.
  • Sessions are currently available under Medicare rebatable mental health plans will be available via telehealth.
  • We are currently working with government and advocating towards a greater expansion of the scheme to improve access for individuals for whom face-to-face consultations may prove difficult. This is done through several channels including the MBS Review.
  • The Medicare rebatable psychological services via telehealth will be available for patients living in Modified Monash Model regions four to seven, which cover smaller country towns and remote and very remote locations.
  • This will ensure that the services go to areas with the biggest access challenges, not to larger regional centres that are more likely to have mental health professionals.
  • This initiative is part of this year’s Federal Budget will cost $9 million over four years from 2017–18 to 2020–21.

Telehealth MBS Numbers

80151 - 20-50 minutes

80161 - 50+ minutes

80171 - 60 minutes (6-10 people)

Please also read the associated notes at the bottom of each page for more information, including record keeping and technical requirements.

More information

We will continue to update information on this page as it becomes available.


FREE TRAINING - TELEHEALTH

Webinar for social workers on telehealth. Date produced 18 June 2018

Telehealth: How to make it work

During this webinar our interdisciplinary panel will explore ethical dilemmas for rural and remote mental health patients in the telehealth setting.

Bushfire telehealth items

In response to the 2019 2020 bushfires, the Federal Government has created two new telehealth items for those affected by bushfires.

Medicare Benefits Schedule - Item 91161

and

Medicare Benefits Schedule - Item 91151

Focussed psychological strategies health service provided to a patient (but not as an admitted patient of a hospital) by an eligible social worker if:

(a) the patient is affected by bushfire; and

(b) the service is provided to the patient individually; and

(c) the attendance is by video conference; and

(d) the patient is not an admitted patient

COVID-19 telehealth items

The Australian Government has unveiled a $2.4 billion health package to protect all Australians, including vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those with chronic conditions and Indigenous communities, from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The package provides support across primary care, aged care, hospitals, research and the national medical stockpile.

On Friday 13 March 2020 the Australian Government expanded existing Medicare telehealth and introduced a number of new COVID-19 items. The government will fund a new Medicare service for people at risk (see below for criteria) to receive mental health consultations via the phone or video such as FaceTime or Skype. The telehealth service makes sure people can still receive much needed mental health supports and will help to contain the spread of the virus. It will be bulk-billed at no cost to patients and will be available from Friday 13 March.

From Monday 30 March 2020, all eligible Australian patients can have access to bulk-billed telehealth services provided by general practitioners, medical specialists, mental health or allied health professionals under the new COVID-19 Telehealth items.

Patients will be able to access all of their 10 mental health care plan sessions annually through these new items. A GP, specialist or consultant referral is required.

Visit the government's webpage for further information

Main points:

Main points:

  • New bulk-billed video-conference consultation and services, which can be provided by GPs, specialists, consultant physicians, consultant psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and allied mental health workers (including AMHSWs) are now available to all eligible Australians
  • These items are currently required to be bulk-billed with no cost to the patient

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.

A GP, specialist or consultant referral is required.

Item numbers

Telehealth items description

80151

Existing Professional attendance lasting more than 20 minutes but less than 50 minutes

80161

Existing Professional attendance lasting at least 50 minutes

91175

COVID-19 items - Telehealth attendance lasting more than 20 minutes but less than 50 minutes

91176

COVID-19 items - Telehealth attendance lasting at least 50 minutes

91187

COVID-19 items - Telephone attendance lasting more than 20 minutes but less than 50 minutes (for when video-conferencing is not available)

91188

COVID-19 items - Telephone attendance lasting at least 50 minutes (for when video-conferencing is not available)

Visit MBS online for all the relevant number policies.

If you are seeking advice in relation to Medicare billing, claiming, payments or obtaining a provider number, please contact Services Australia on the Provider Enquiry Line - 13 21 50

New DVA COVID-19 telehealth items

From 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020 (inclusive), new video and phone conferencing items are available for telehealth services provided to all recipients of DVA. This is an expansion on the previous items that were only in place for people and practitioners who were COVID-19 affected or considered an at risk or vulnerable person. These mirror the MBS items for COVID-19 telehealth.

Item numbers

Telehealth items description

US29

Consultation 20-50 Minutes - Video Conference

US30

Consultation 50+ Minutes - Video Conference

US47

Consultation 20-50 Minutes - Phone Consultation

US48

Consultation 50+ Minutes - Phone Consultation

Visit the DVA website for more information

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers