Medicare available for ongoing care of patients with complex needs

By Melissa Coade

Monday November 1, 2021

Health minister Greg Hunt in profile
Health minister Greg Hunt. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Support for the complex health needs of young children who have been diagnosed with autism and people living with chronic diseases will be eligible for Medicare from 1 November.

Health minister Greg Hunt announced the additional Medicare items for eligible health providers on Monday.

“Under the change, allied health professionals will be paid to attend multidisciplinary conferences held by the patient’s regular doctor – in person, via video conference or phone – to discuss diagnosis, care and treatment plans,” Hunt said.

Previously, services such as multidisciplinary case conferences for patients living with a chronic disease (under the care of a GP as part of a team care arrangement) were not available for allied health workers to claim reimbursement under Medicare. 

This was also the case for allied health professionals working with children under 13 years (under the care of a specialist, consultant physician or GP) who were receiving either diagnosis or treatment of autism or any other ‘pervasive developmental disorder’. 

New Medicare items will encourage eligible health providers to work together more closely to support the health of vulnerable Australians,” Hunt said. 

“These additional items will improve care coordination and deliver better outcomes to patients with complex needs who have multiple care providers.”

From today, allied health professionals will be reimbursed through Medicare for taking part in case conferences to support the identified groups of vulnerable Australians. 

The minister explained that for chronic disease management this included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) health practitioners and health workers, audiologists, chiropractors, diabetes educators, dietitians, exercise physiologists, mental health workers, occupational therapists, osteopaths, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists and speech pathologists.

Eligible allied healthcare professionals working with children diagnosed with development disorders will include ATSI health workers, audiologists, mental health nurses, mental health workers, occupational therapists, optometrists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, psychologists and speech pathologists can take part.

“New Medicare items will encourage eligible health providers to work together more closely to support the health of vulnerable Australians,” Hunt said.

Earlier this year the government set aside $13.7 million to create new Medicare items on the recommendation of the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) Review, that will also increase the number of doctor-led multidisciplinary case conferences in primary care. 


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