The Department of Health has confirmed that with the medicare subsidy changes, vulnerable groups no longer need to provide evidence of an existing clinical relationship.
"Patients are able to choose their preferred provider," a spokeswoman said.
"Regular Medicare telehealth items for GP services in remote and very remote areas are still available, but require evidence of an existing clinical relationship. This requirement acknowledges the association of continuity of care with improved health outcomes, and helps to mitigate any unintended undermining of rural practitioners by those in metropolitan areas."
She said the government would consider extending the subsidies beyond September 30 based on advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
Wednesday: Member for Mallee Anne Webster says she will push for recent expansions of medicare subsidies that apply to telehealth to remain in place after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Since March 30, video and telephone consultations for GP services, mental health and chronic disease management, pregnancy support, children with autism and patients in aged care facilities have been available under the Medicare Benefits Scheme.
This means general and nurse practitioners, participating midwives and allied health providers can bill the government for these services rather than the patients.
The measures are in place until September 30.
Dr Webster said she would like to see them continue beyond that time. She has previously pushed for Medicare rebates for telehealth.
"I really hope they will stay in place at the end of COVID-19, because as I have said in my draft health policy document it would be of tremendous benefit to regional health," she said.
"It isn't the be-all and end-all, it's in conjunction with face-to-face. The benefit it gives us is timely consultations with a medical practitioner, preferably one we already know, so we can progress our own needs being met in a timely way."
Dr Kate Graham, a GP based at Lister House's Natimuk office, said while there were limitations to telehealth, there would be benefits in the Medicare subsidies becoming ongoing.
"The practice has moved to a model where all consultations are done via telehealth as an initial point of contact, just to screen and triage people who may not need to come to the clinic so they aren't at risk," she said.
"Anyone that needs to be seen in person will still be. I think people have been accepting of the need for change.
"I think this may provide some people, particularly more rural and remote people, the option of remaining at home for some of their consultations and accessing medical care without putting extra burdens on their time. But that will depend on whether the rebates continue.
"I think GPs would still be able to provide telehealth services, but they would be at an increased cost to patients. My view is the rural community pays extra costs for healthcare anyway, because people do need to pay to travel to access services. We want to make sure we can minimise their costs as much as possible."
Dr Graham said patients could make the most of video and telephone consultations by making a list of all their thoughts and questions in advance, and discussing how to send through photos of their concerns.
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