Today marks three weeks until the temporary telehealth measures introduced by the Government for the COVID-19 pandemic will lapse.
 
The Government should urgently extend these Medicare Benefits Schedule subsidies due to expire on September 30.
 
By the Minister for Health’s own words, these measures were introduced “to ensure Australians have access to the healthcare services they need through the COVID-19 pandemic”.
 
Well the pandemic isn’t over. And until we have a vaccine for COVID-19 we need to ensure the continuation of health care for Australians and protect the safety of our health care workers.
 
Data released by the Australian Department of Health showed that the total number consultations delivered by GPs, specialists and allied health professionals came to over 1.4 million COVID-19 video consultations and 16 million COVID-19 phone consultations from March to June.
 
Numbers also released by the Department confirmed that 44 per cent of mental health consultations funded by Medicare during the same period were conducted over telehealth.
 
Telehealth has played a critically important role in managing Australian’s physical and mental health during this pandemic.
 
Along with the extension of the telehealth rebates, the Government should extend the MBS rebates for COVID-19 pathology tests beyond September 30.
 
The Government must do the right thing and extend these measures.