Expanded Australian Medicare services for the chronically ill

From tomorrow, Australian people who have chronic diseases and complex health conditions will have access to additional Medicare rebates for up to five allied health and three dental services.

This is the first time that payments for these types of services have been made through Medicare, and the new rebates recognise the importance of a multidisciplinary approach for people who have complicated illnesses.

“Sometimes it can make a big difference to have access to more specialised services such as podiatry or physiotherapy, when managing a chronic condition such as diabetes, or heart disease,” Senator Meg Lees said.

“As our population ages and these chronic conditions become more prevalent, we need to ensure that GPs can refer patients to allied health workers to help their patients better manage these conditions,” she said.

The Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, said up to 150,000 patients a year are expected to benefit from this new Medicare initiative.

“To be eligible for the rebate, patients will need to be referred by their GP, and have their care managed through a multidisciplinary care plan, he said

The Government has consulted with GP groups, allied health professional organisations and the Australian Dental Association on this initiative.

Patients who have been treated by an allied health professional are entitled to claim a $44 rebate from Medicare. Patients are entitled to five visits per year and each visit will attract a Medicare rebate of $44.

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