Temporary Expansion of COVID-19 Specialist MBS Telehealth Items

As part of the ongoing management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has approved a temporary expansion of the existing COVID-19 specialist telehealth items to include attendances for private admitted patients being treated in either a private or public hospital. 
The expansion will occur through the listing of 40 new COVID-19 attendance items (20 telephone, 20 video) on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). The new items will commence from 15 September 2021.
The new items will enable admitted private patients to continue to receive essential Medicare services in circumstances where the admitting specialist medical practitioner’s access to the hospital is impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
The expansion will apply to a range of inpatient telehealth attendances provided by specialist medical practitioners in the following specialities – specialists; consultant psychiatrists; consultant physicians (including pain medicine, palliative care, sexual health and addiction medicine practitioners); public health physicians; neurosurgeons; anaesthetists; and approved dental practitioners – oral and maxillofacial surgery. 
These changes, along with other temporary COVID-19 MBS telehealth items, will remain in place until 31 December 2021, with ongoing telehealth arrangements to be considered as part of broader Government consideration of MBS telehealth arrangements.
The following general conditions must be met in order to use the new telehealth inpatient items:

  • A private patient has been admitted to hospital; and
  • The admitting specialist medical practitioner, at the time the attendance is provided, is:
    - located in an area determined by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer to be a COVID-19 hotspot; or
    - required to isolate because of a State or Territory COVID-19 public health order; or
    - required to be in quarantine because of a State or Territory COVID-19 public health order.

The listing of COVID-19 hotspots by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer can be found on the Department’s website at Listing areas of COVID-19 local transmission as hotspots.
MBS Benefits payable:

  • The new telehealth inpatient items attract a Medicare rebate of 85% of the MBS Schedule Fee.
  • Private health insurance benefits are not payable for these telehealth attendances.
  • Out of pocket costs for the new items will count towards the patient’s Medicare Safety Nets (original and extended). 

Further information about the new arrangements is set out in the following documents:

These information resources will also be available on the MBSOnline website.

Questions about the new arrangements can be directed to the Medical Specialist Services Section via email.


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