Changes to the MBS to support patients affected by bushfires


Bushfire crisis

In response to the current bushfire crisis, the Australian Government has announced a number of initiatives to improve access to mental health care for those affected.

Information for GPs on bushfires can be found here.

New MBS items for GPs to provide focussed psychological strategies to patients affected by bushfires

Six new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items (91721, 91723, 91725, 91727, 91729 and 91731) were introduced on 17 January 2020 to support GPs to provide focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to patients affected by bushfires. These items will be in place for the next two years.

The services are available to anyone whose mental health has been affected by a bushfire which occurred in the 2019-20 financial year, and are not restricted to people living in areas directly affected by bushfire.

Patients can access up to 10 individual mental health services in a calendar year (provided by any combination of eligible providers). A diagnosis or referral are not required to request these services.

Services received under the government’s Bushfire Response initiative do not count toward a patient’s quota of services under the Better Access initiative.

The new items can be claimed by GPs who meet the relevant training and skills requirements, as determined by the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration.

For more information on the new items, visit MBS Online.

Item number

Descriptor

Rebate

91721

Professional attendance at consulting rooms by a general practitioner (not including a specialist or a consultant physician), for providing focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; and
  2. the service is at least 30 minutes but less than 40 minutes duration

$110.85

91723

Professional attendance at a place other than consulting rooms by a general practitioner (not including a specialist or a consultant physician), for providing focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; and
  2. the service is at least 30 minutes but less than 40 minutes duration

The rebate for item 91721 plus:

  • $31.00 (if not more than six patients – to be divided by the number of patients)
  • $2.40 (if more than six patients)

91725

Professional attendance at consulting rooms by a general practitioner (not including a specialist or a consultant physician), for providing focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; and
  2. the service is at least 40 minutes duration

$158.60

91727

Professional attendance at a place other than consulting rooms by a general practitioner (not including a specialist or a consultant physician), for providing focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; and
  2. the service is at least 40 minutes duration

The rebate for item 91725 plus:

  • $31.00 (if not more than six patients – to be divided by the number of patients)
  • $2.40 (if more than six patients)

91729

Professional attendance at consulting rooms by a general practitioner, for providing focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; and
  2. the attendance is by video conference; and
  3. the service is at least 30 minutes but less than 40 minutes duration

$110.85

91731

Professional attendance at consulting rooms by a general practitioner, for providing focussed psychological strategies for mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; and
  2. the attendance is by video conference; and
  3. the service is at least 40 minutes duration

$158.60

Amended mental health telehealth items to support patients affected by bushfires

MBS items 2121, 2150 and 2196, which provide rebates for GP telehealth services provided to patients with mental health issues in drought-affected areas, have been expanded to include patients affected by bushfires. These changes took effect on 10 January 2020.

Eligible patients are those who have experienced an adverse change in their mental health as a result of a bushfire which occurred in the 2019-20 financial year.

Patients who have been identified by a GP as being affected by bushfire, or who self-identify as being affected by bushfire, are eligible for these services. In addition to people who reside in areas directly affected by the bushfires, eligible patients may include people who reside in areas which have not been directly affected.

There is no minimum distance for telehealth services provided to patients affected by bushfire.

MBS rebates for these items remain the same. The items are scheduled to expire on 30 June 2020.

For more information on these changes, visit MBS Online.

Item number

Descriptor

Rebate

2121

Professional attendance by video conference by a general practitioner, lasting less than 20 minutes, for providing mental health services to a patient with mental health issues,if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; or
  2. the patient and the general practitioner are located within a drought affected eligible area, and:
    1. the patient is, at the time of the attendance, at least 15 kilometres by road from the general practitioner; and
    2. the patient has an existing relationship with the general practitioner

$44.90

2150

Professional attendance by video conference by a general practitioner, lasting at least 20 minutes, for providing mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; or
  2. the patient and the general practitioner are located within a drought affected eligible area, and:
    1. the patient is, at the time of the attendance, at least 15 kilometres by road from the general practitioner; and
    2. the patient has an existing relationship with the general practitioner

$86.95

2196

Professional attendance by video conference by a general practitioner, lasting at least 40 minutes, for providing mental health services to a patient with mental health issues, if:

  1. the patient is affected by bushfire; or
  2. the patient and the general practitioner are located within a drought affected eligible area, and:
    1. the patient is, at the time of the attendance, at least 15 kilometres by road from the general practitioner; and
    2. the patient has an existing relationship with the general practitioner

$128.05