13 August 2020

Labor supports calls made today by the Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for telehealth services introduced for the pandemic to be extended.

Labor called for the introduction of Medicare telehealth rebates early in this health emergency, and has consistently supported reforms to the items to improve patient outcomes.

Today the AMA and RACGP have reiterated that the pandemic will not end on 30 September - when Medicare telehealth items are due to cease - and have called on the Government to extend the items until March, in line with the JobKeeper extension.

Medical and allied health services delivered by telehealth have allowed Australians to access health care from home while reducing COVID-19 risks for patients and health care workers alike.

Labor backs these calls by the AMA and RACGP and urges the Government to extend the telehealth program.

The extension should include both telephone and videoconference items, to maintain access and choice for patients and providers - including those who cant access video services.

And the extension period must be used to agree a long-term future for telehealth, as part of broader efforts to boost the quality and coordination of care.

Labor also urges the Government to extend telehealth access for mental health services in consultation with the sector, and to release and respond to the Productivity Commission report on mental health urgently.