Commonwealth Announces New MBS Items to Combat COVID-19

An updated Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) has been released for COVID-19 Telehealth items and Phone attendances, including:

  • Bulk-billed video-conference consultation services, which can be provided by GPs, specialists, consultant physicians, consultant psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and allied mental health workers for certain vulnerable people;
  • Bulk-billed telephone consultations services which can be provided by GPs for certain vulnerable people;
  • Bulk-billed pathology services where a medical practitioner has requested a test for SARS-CoV-2 under a new item; and
  • Bulk-billed pathology services for a pathologist to test for SARS-CoV-2 and relevant respiratory viruses, if the treating practitioner did not request them.

The items are now claimable and further items be added to the MBS XML and MBS Online.

The Government has since announced that all vulnerable general practitioners and other vulnerable health professionals who are currently authorised to use telehealth item numbers can now use telehealth for all consultations with all their patients.

This includes health care providers who are:

  • Aged at least 70 years old
  • Indigenous and aged at least 50 years old
  • Pregnant
  • A parent of a child under 12 months
  • Immune compromised.
  • Have a chronic medical condition that results in increased risk from coronavirus infection.

There are also new bulk-billed video-conference items for GP and other doctors working in general practice to continue to provide certain health services to their patients during the period of their isolation. Allied health providers with appropriate mental health training who are in isolation for possible COVID-19 infection will also be able to continue to provide mental health services to their patients during the period of their isolation.

Please visit the MBS website for more information.

Defining who is at risk of COVID-19

Vulnerable/isolated patients have been defined as those where at least one of the following apply:

a) the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but who is not a patient of a hospital; or
b) the person has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC); or
c) the person is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being a person who is:

  1. at least 70 years old; or
  2. at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
  3. is pregnant; or
  4. is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
  5. is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised; or

d) the person meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

A health professional at risk for COVID-19 has been defined as a person that:

a) has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but who is not a patient of a hospital; or
b) has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

Please continue to check our website for the latest updates regarding COVID-19.