Update to Medicare's Psychology and Social Work Rebates

As of the 9th of October 2020, the Federal Government has increased the number of sessions that can be rebated under the Medicare Better Access Scheme per year. You can now access up to an additional 10 sessions if eligible due to mental health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic – this equates to up to a maximum of 20 sessions per calendar year.

What you need to know about your appointments:

  • Your GP/referrer can now refer you for up to 10 additional sessions, after you have completed an initial 10 sessions under usual conditions.
  • Once you have attended a total of 10 sessions under a Better Access referral, a new referral/a re-referral from your GP can be obtained (for up to 10 further sessions), if appropriate.
  • Your GP will then need to provide a referral letter recommending further sessions under Better Access (up to a maximum of 10 additional sessions) once they have seen you for an appointment.
  • A new Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) or MHCP review is not required, unless your GP deems this necessary (e.g. there is a change in your mental health diagnosis).
  • If a new MHCP or a MHCP review is completed by your GP, a referral letter is still required.
  • You can see whichever clinician (psychologist or social worker) you want, even if there is a specific clinician’s name on the referral letter, as long as the clinician is registered to provide services under Medicare.
  • At this stage, the additional sessions will be available until the 30th of June 2022.
  • Telehealth currently remains available under Medicare and provides an opportunity to optimise health, safety and infection control under current COVID-19 conditions. Your treating clinician or our clinic staff will update you if there are any changes to Telehealth availability in the future.
  • You may wish to take this information sheet to your next appointment with your GP when you are requesting a new referral / re-referral.

For further information, please feel free to contact our clinic. We will be happy to help you with any queries.

Medicare Fact Sheet

Information for GPs

As of the 9th of October 2020, the Federal Government has increased the number of sessions that can be rebated under the Better Access to Mental Health (Medicare) Scheme, to a maximum of 20 sessions per calendar year for people who are experiencing severe or enduring mental health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously the maximum was 10 per calendar year, and an additional 10 are now allowed, if deemed appropriate by the referring GP.

We have been advised that:

  • GPs can now refer clients for up to 10 additional sessions under The Better Access Scheme, once the initial 10 sessions have been used.
  • The referrals for the initial 10 sessions can still only be a maximum of 6 sessions (per course of treatment).
  • Once clients have used up the initial 10 sessions, a new referral/a re-referral from the GP can be obtained (for up to 10 further sessions – referral letter can request 10 sessions for these additional sessions) if the GP deems this appropriate.
  • The GP will need to provide a referral letter.
  • A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) must have been completed at some stage for the client to be referred for appointments that attract a Medicare rebate under Better Access.
  • A new MHCP or a MHCP review is not required unless the GP deems this necessary (e.g. there is a change in the mental health diagnosis).
  • If a new MHCP or a MHCP review is completed, a referral letter is still required.
  • Referral letters still require the following information:
    • Client details: Name, address, date of birth
    • Eligible mental health diagnosis/condition
    • List of medications
    • Number of sessions requested for this referral (up to 6 for the initial 10 sessions, and up to 10 for the additional course(s) of treatment)
    • Details and signature of the GP/referrer
  • Referrals can (still) be used across calendar years. For example, if a client is referred for the additional 10 sessions in 2020 and uses 5 of those sessions in 2020, the remaining 5 sessions can be used in 2021 before a new referral letter from the GP is required.
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