Media Release | Phillips calls for halt to axing of Medicare Rebate for regional people to see telehealth specialists

Media Release | Phillips calls for halt to axing of Medicare Rebate for regional people to see telehealth specialists Main Image

24 December 2021




Federal member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, is calling on the Morrison Government to urgently halt its sudden plan to axe the Medicare rebate on 1 January 2022, that allows regional patients to access specialist appointments by telehealth, including for mental health psychiatry appointments. 

Mrs Phillips has been contacted by local constituents, GPs and Psychiatrists, in recent days, about the grave concerns about the impact of the axing of the Medicare rebate on vulnerable patients.

Medicare rebate item 288 is designed to give regional and rural people greater access to specialists appointments by encouraging specialists to provide services specifically to regional and rural areas.

The sudden change will strip more than $75 million in Medicare funding to rural and regional patients each year.

It will effectively mean a 33 per cent cut to the Medicare rebate that patients get in a regional and rural community for specialist telehealth services. This will make it harder and more expensive to access these services. The result will be less people will be able to get the support they need.

Mrs Phillips saying, “This is one of the worst decisions fathomable at a time when people need support the most.”

“It is incomprehensible that the Morrison Government could even consider this move, knowing the immense strain local people are going through in relation to bushfire recovery, floods and the pandemic,” Mrs Phillips said.

“Each day, I see the real and raw pain that people are going through. As a mum myself, I see mums, dads, families and carers crying out for more help for their loved ones, including our young people, and now the Morrison government wants to make it harder for people”, Mrs Phillips said.

“GP practices have an enormous number of patients that need mental health support and that rely on access to telehealth mental health specialists. Taking away this Medicare rebate places even more strain on our local GPs, public mental health services and health workers, which is just unfair and not right,” Mrs Phillips said.

“That the Morrison Government has dropped this bombshell decision just days before Christmas says it all – the Morrison Government doesn’t care or understand the complex health needs of regional and rural areas”, Mrs Phillips continued.

“I am calling on the Morrison Government to halt the axing of this Medicare rebate to ensure that no person in Gilmore is left worse off”, Mrs Phillips concluded.