Morrison Government Must Extend TelehealthMedia Release
With just six weeks to go to the wrap up of telehealth, Corangamite MP Libby Coker says she holds grave concerns for her community if remote consultations with GPs are not extended.
The current telehealth offering, implemented by the government due to the pandemic, is set to expire on September 30.
Ms Coker said following discussions with local GPs it was clear the Morrison Government must make telehealth consultations a permanent Medicare item.
“For many in my community who live far from their local GPs, the adoption of telehealth has brought significant benefits, particularly for the elderly and the vulnerable,” she said.
“I’m very concerned that when the Medicare rebate ends many who need care won’t access it out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
“Labor called for the introduction of Medicare telehealth rebates early in this health emergency and has consistently support reforms to the items to improve patient outcomes
“The extension should include both telephone and videoconference items to maintain access and choice for patients and providers – including those who can’t access video conferencing.
Ms Coker’s call for telehealth to be a permanent Medicare item follows advocacy from both the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners who last week urged the government to extend telehealth until March next year.
Local GP, Dr Bernard Shiu, of the Banksia Medical Centre, said telehealth has extended the traditional boundaries of GP’s practices by overcoming the barrier of proximity in primary care.
“It also allows patients to receive the medical care and advice they need while observing physical distancing during COVID19,” he said.
“At first, we all worried about if we would be able to pivot to this new style of consultation, but very quickly both GPs and patients embraced the change.
“Even for the older generation, they have been able to make good use of this service and have their care attended to largely via telephone with their GPs.
“GPs have been advocating for telehealth for many years, long before COVID19. It was a shame to have to take a disaster for the government to allow this modernization to happen.
“Both the UK and in the USA, Telehealth have been an integral part of Primary health for many years. It does not make sense if the Australian government stops funding it now in the middle of a pandemic.
“In fact, we think it should be better funded with a strategic long-term vision how to better facilitate this service.”Share Tweet