Government to extend telehealth funding until end of 2021

Australians will be able to continue to access Medicare-subsidised telehealth services until the end of the year with the federal government set to include a six-month extension in May’s budget.

The government rapidly rolled out telehealth subsidies in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic struck so Australians could continue to access GP, mental health and allied health services during lockdowns.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says telehealth services have been vital for Australians during the coronavirus pandemic.Credit:Chris Hopkins

The Medicare arrangements were due to end on June 30, but Health Minister Greg Hunt will extend those until the end of the year while the government works with peak bodies to design a post-pandemic telehealth system.

“Over the last 12 months, telehealth services have been life-changing for many in need of support,” Mr Hunt said.

“The extension will ensure that Australians can continue to see their GP, renew scripts and seek mental health support from the safety of their own home. This allows vulnerable Australians to feel protected and supported during these unprecedented times.”

Over the year to the end of March, more than 54 million Medicare-subsidised telehealth services were delivered to 13.5 million patients. More than 83,000 providers have offered the services and almost $2.8 billion in Medicare benefits were paid.

The cost of the six-month extension will be detailed in the federal budget on May 11.

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