Media Releases

LABOR WILL RESTORE REGIONAL MENTAL TELEHEALTH SERVICES

April 12, 2022

An Albanese Labor Government will restore affordable telehealth psychiatric consultations for people living in regional and rural Australia, reversing Scott Morrison’s damaging Medicare cut.
 
In December 2021, the Morrison Government ended the ability for Australians in rural and regional areas to access bulk billed psychiatry consultations through telehealth.
 
This cut has seriously curtailed the access of people in rural and regional Australia to vital mental health services, and came at the height of the Omicron wave of the COVID pandemic.
 
This cut has impacted patients in regional areas throughout Australia.
 
It has resulted in significant gap fees for psychiatric consultations delivered through videoconferencing to patients living in the regions. It has also seen some psychiatrists withdrawing these services altogether.
 
Scott Morrison’s cuts to Medicare bulk billing for psychiatric telehealth shows how his policies are hurting people in regional and rural Australia.
 
By contrast, Labor understands the importance of mental health care for Australians, regardless of where they live.
 
We will restore a 50 per cent regional loading to telehealth psychiatric consultations, meaning people in the regions will once again be able to have affordable bulk billed telehealth mental health consultations.
 
Reinstating Medicare support for telehealth mental health consultations is expected to support 450,000 consultations over 4 years, 585,000 consultations over 5 years, 1.426 million consultations over ten years.
 
This investment in strengthening Medicare will cost $31.3 million over the forward estimates.
 
Labor built Medicare – and only an Albanese Labor Government will strengthen Medicare, by making it easier to see a doctor.
 
Quotes attributable to Anthony Albanese:
 
“Scott Morrison’s cuts to regional mental health consultations during a pandemic which has seen people struggling with mental health issues are unconscionable.
 
“Labor will restore these vital mental health services, making them affordable and accessible to people wherever they live.”
 

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