Temporary COVID-19 MBS telehealth items that commenced on 13 March 2020 have now been extended to 31 December 2021.
This latest extension was announced as part of the Australian Government’s 2021–22 Budget.
From 1 July 2021, the previous broad range of temporary telephone services will be replaced with a smaller number of MBS items. Video items are unchanged.
New GP services include:
- 91890 — short telephone consultation item (< 6 minutes) for straightforward care, e.g repeat prescriptions and diagnostic referrals; and
- 91891 — longer telephone consultation item (> 6 minutes+) for more complex attendances.
Plus, 4 new time-based items for blood-borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health consultations (video and phone).
New OMP services include:
- 91892 — short telephone consultation item (< 6 minutes)
Plus, 8 new time-based items for blood-borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health consultations (video and phone).
Longer telephone items for mental health treatment will continue to be available until 31 December 2021.
Existing relationship — when it applies and when it doesn’t
In most instances, the temporary MBS telehealth items are available to providers of telehealth services for a wide range of consultations being provided to a patient where there is an existing or established relationship.
An existing relationship is defined as the patient having seen the same practitioner for a face-to-face service in the 12 months preceding the telehealth service, or having seen a doctor or other health practitioner (such as a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker) at the same medical practice for a face-to-face service during the same period.
The existing relationship requirement does not apply for:
- children under the age of 12 months;
- people who are homeless;
- patients living in a COVID-19 impacted area;
- patients receiving an urgent after-hours (unsociable hours) service; or
- patients of medical practitioners at an Aboriginal Medical Service or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.
Plus, from 1 July 2021, additional exemptions to the existing relationship requirement are being introduced for patients accessing MBS items for:
- blood-borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health consultations (new items); and
- pregnancy counselling services (under MBS Group A40).
For more information and the full range of fact sheets, visit MBS online.