On 5 August 2018, as part of their drought relief package, the Australian Government announced changes to the Medicare Better Access telehealth items, effective from Saturday 1 September 2018.
The Better Access telehealth items remain available for people living in rural and remote areas (Modified Monash Model regions 4 to 7) but as of 1 September 2018, the Government has removed all the face-to-face requirements for these items.
This means that as of 1 September 2018:
• Clients will no longer need to have one of their first four sessions conducted face-to-face, and
• The cap limiting the number of telehealth sessions in a calendar year to seven has been removed. This means eligible clients can access up to ten telehealth sessions in a calendar year.
The Australian Psychological Society have long advocated for the telehealth measure to improve access to psychological services for Australians living or working in rural and remote areas. The removal of the face-to-face requirements means that Australians living in rural and remote Australia will have enhanced access to psychological services.