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New items for additional mental health support for people affected by COVID-19


Amended items from 9 October 2020

On 7 August 2020, 36 new temporary mental health treatment MBS items were introduced. These items originally provided 10 additional Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people affected by COVID-19.

As part of the 2020–21 federal budget, eligibility for the 10 additional sessions per calendar year was expanded to include all eligible patients under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative.

The additional sessions will allow eligible patients to continue to receive mental health care from their GP, psychologist or other eligible allied health worker.

In order to access these sessions, patients will be required to have:

  • an approved treatment plan (either a Mental Health Treatment Plan, shared care plan, psychiatrist assessment and management plan or approved written record) developed by their medical practitioner (GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician)
  • used their initial 10 individual Better Access sessions before they seek a referral for additional sessions
  • a referral from their reviewing practitioner (a referral is not required when the GP developing a Mental Health Treatment Plan also delivers the psychological therapy sessions).

The change will also extend the timeframe for which additional sessions are available. Service availability is as follows:

  • Additional Better Access services performed in person will now be available until 30 June 2022
  • Additional Better Access services performed by telehealth or phone will be available until 31 March 2021

If previously eligible patients (those subject to state or territory public health orders) received a referral for their additional 10 sessions between 7 August 2020 and 9 October 2020, they can continue to access any remaining sessions under that referral up to a maximum of 10 additional mental health sessions.

A fact sheet outlining the changes is available on MBS Online.

Descriptors and rebates for the six items that support additional mental health care provided by GPs are listed below. There are both face-to-face and telehealth (video and phone) items available.

Item number

Descriptor

Rebate

93300

Professional attendance at consulting rooms by a general practitioner, for the purpose of providing focussed psychological strategies for assessed mental disorders if:

  1. the person is referred by a medical practitioner working in general practice, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician who makes a written record of the need for additional mental health treatment services; and
  2. the service lasts at least 30 minutes, but less than 40 minutes

$95.65

93303

Professional attendance at consulting rooms by a general practitioner, for the purpose of providing focussed psychological strategies for assessed mental disorders if:

  1. the person is referred by a medical practitioner working in general practice, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician who makes a written record of the need for additional mental health treatment services; and
  2. the service lasts at least 40 minutes

$136.85

93301

Telehealth attendance by a general practitioner, for the purpose of providing focussed psychological strategies for assessed mental disorders if:

  1. the person is referred by a medical practitioner working in general practice, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician who makes a written record of the need for additional mental health treatment services; and
  2. the service lasts at least 30 minutes, but less than 40 minutes

$95.65

93302

Phone attendance by a general practitioner, for the purpose of providing focussed psychological strategies for assessed mental disorders if:

  1. the person is referred by a medical practitioner working in general practice, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician who makes a written record of the need for additional mental health treatment services; and
  2. the service lasts at least 30 minutes, but less than 40 minutes

$95.65

93304

Telehealth attendance by a general practitioner, for the purpose of providing focussed psychological strategies for assessed mental disorders if:

  1. the person is referred by a medical practitioner working in general practice, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician who makes a written record of the need for additional mental health treatment services; and
  2. the service lasts at least 40 minutes

$136.85

93305

Phone attendance by a general practitioner, for the purpose of providing focussed psychological strategies for assessed mental disorders if:

  1. the person is referred by a medical practitioner working in general practice, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician who makes a written record of the need for additional mental health treatment services; and
  2. the service lasts at least 40 minutes

$136.85