Millions of Australians will continue to receive medical care and support in their own homes, says Prime Minister Scott Morrison, following the announcement government will spend more than $2-billion to extend a range of COVID-19 health measures for a further six months.
Medicare-subsidised telehealth and pathology services, GP-led respiratory clinics, home medicines delivery, public and private hospital services will all be extended. So will further spending on Personal Protective Equipment.
Morrison said the $2-billion extension in funding brought the government’s commitment for the health response to more than $16.5-billion since March.
Supporting necessary care for people in isolation
“We will continue to provide Australians with critical health care and support to protect both lives and livelihoods,” the PM said.
“By providing telehealth and home delivery medicine services we are reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the community while also supporting people in isolation to get the care they need,” he added.
“Importantly, this also includes mental health services, delivered over the phone by trained specialists and GPs.
Telehealth plan went from 10 years to 10 days
“As we continue to suppress COVID-19 while continuing to open our economy up, Australians can be reassured that we have the world’s best medical support in place to protect their health.”
Discussing the telehealth program, national health minister Greg Hunt said the response to the pandemic had brought forward a 10-year plan on telehealth within 10 days.
“As a consequence, over 30-million consultations protected the health and wellbeing of Australians and protected our health workers and the viability of their practices.”
Essential specialist services also included
The Minister for Health noted that telehealth is also being extended for essential specialist services, such as consultant physician, geriatrician, and neurosurgery services. Bulk billing will continue to be available and regular billing practices will apply to all of these services.
“Up to 150 GP-led respiratory clinics across the country, which complement state-run fever clinics, will continue their pivotal role in testing,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.
“Patients will continue to have access to bulk-billed COVID-19 tests under Medicare, with aged care residents and staff getting priority access to rapid testing.”