Exemption for people in COVID-19 impacted areas
Since 20 July 2020, it has been a legislative requirement that to access MBS telehealth services, patients must have had a face-to-face attendance with the GP providing the service, or another practitioner at the same practice, at least once in the previous 12 months.
There are limited exceptions to this rule, including for people in COVID-19 impacted areas. As of 16 July 2021, the test for exempting patients who have their movement restricted by a State or Territory public health order has been replaced with three separate criteria:
- the patient is in COVID-19 isolation because of a State or Territory public health order; or
- the patient is in COVID-19 quarantine because of a State or Territory public health order; or
- the patient is located in a COVID-19 hotspot as declared by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.
A list of current Commonwealth declared COVID-19 hotspots is available here.
This change means that being in lockdown does not necessarily exempt a patient from the existing relationship requirement. For example, a person in lockdown who is not in isolation/quarantine, and who lives in an area that is not a Commonwealth declared hotspot, would not be exempt.
Exemption for mental health and eating disorder services
The requirement for patients to have an existing relationship with their medical practitioner to access a general practice telehealth or phone item related to mental health support services, including services provided under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS initiative (Better Access) and eating disorder services, has been removed. This change took effect on 21 July 2021.
The following general practice MBS services are now exempt from the requirement:
- Items 92146–92149 (eating disorder management via videoconference)
- Item 92170 (review of an eating disorder treatment and management plan via videoconference)
- Item 92176 (review of an eating disorder treatment and management plan via telephone)
- Items 92182 and 92184 (eating disorder psychological treatment services via videoconference)
- Items 92194 and 92196 (eating disorder psychological treatment services via telephone)
- Items 92112–92117 (mental health care via videoconference)
- Item 92127 (mental health care via telephone)
- Items 91818 and 91819 (initial Focussed Psychological Strategies [FPS] sessions via videoconference)
- Items 91842 and 91843 (initial FPS sessions via telephone)
For more information on the existing relationship requirement, view frequently asked questions compiled by the RACGP.