MBS changes for GPs from 1 July

Morgan Liotta

30/06/2021 3:07:14 PM

newsGP summarises key changes the new financial year will bring for general practice.

1 July on calendar
The new financial year brings a number of key changes for GP.

A number of changes will be made to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 July 2021, including indexation of most items and changes to general surgery, orthopaedic and cardiac services recommended by the MBS Review Taskforce.
Indexation of MBS items
The MBS indexation factor for 1 July 2021 is 0.9%.

Indexation will be applied to most of the general medical services items, all diagnostic imaging services, except nuclear medicine imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and two pathology items (74990 and 74991).
Changes to MBS telehealth items
The broad range of temporary GP telephone attendances will be replaced with a smaller number of items. There are no changes to video items.
Two new GP phone items will be introduced:

  • A short consultation item (<6 minutes) for straightforward care
  • A longer consultation item (>6 minutes) for more complex attendances
The following phone items will be retained until 31 December 2021:
  • Pregnancy support counselling (item 92138)
  • Eating disorder psychological treatment service (EDPT), 30–40 minutes (item 92194)
  • EDPT service, >40 minutes (item 92196)
  • Review of an eating disorder treatment and management plan (item 92176)
  • Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS) treatment, 30–40 minutes (item 91842)
  • FPS treatment, >40 minutes (item 91843)
  • Mental health treatment consultation, >20 minutes (item 92127)
  • Review of a GP mental health treatment plan or Psychiatrist Assessment and Management Plan (item 92126)
There are eight new GP items for blood-borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health consultations (video and phone), which are time-based.
These items can be used for services related to blood-borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health, excluding assisted reproductive technology and antenatal care. Section 100 drugs can be prescribed under these items, if clinically relevant.
Additional exemptions to the existing relationship requirement are being introduced for patients accessing MBS items for pregnancy counselling (existing items under MBS Group A40) and blood-borne viruses, sexual or reproductive health (new items).

The RACGP has said it will continue to advocate for an expanded range of MBS phone items given the value and convenience they offer for patients.
More detailed information is available on the RACGP website.
Changes to MBS heart health assessment items
Heart health assessment items 699 and 177 will be amended so that these services can only be performed on a patient aged 30 years or older. This will align the items with the current evidence-based age cohorts for the Australian Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk calculator, which is the basis for the assessment requirements for the items.
Introduction of Financial Services Council updates
The process for seeking patient consent and releasing medical information to life insurers is being updated, following the introduction of a new Standard by the Financial Services Council.
Under the new Standard 26: Consent for accessing health information, life insurers will be required to ask for patient consent to access their health information in two standard ways, known as an ‘authority’.
Both authorities will be sought at the same time, but information can only be provided under the second authority under certain, limited conditions.
The RACGP’s FAQ page has further information for GPs on the changes.
Mandatory reporting of all vaccinations
Since 1 March 2021, it has been mandatory for all vaccination providers, including GPs, to register every influenza and COVID-19 vaccination on the Australian Immunisation Register.
From 1 July, the requirement will be expanded to include all vaccinations on the National Immunisation Program.
The RACGP is broadly supportive of the new requirements, but has advocated for an ‘escalating approach’ for providers found to be in breach of the requirements, as opposed to punitive measures.
The RACGP has indicated it will update its MBS online tool with the latest rebate values as soon as possible from 1 July.
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Dr Duncan MacWalter   1/07/2021 6:39:55 AM

The loss of a swathe of telephone item numbers needed to deliver high quality chronic disease management, especially to our most elderly or remote (who won't have easy access to video), whilst the majority of our major capitals, plus rural areas like Alice Springs or Magnetic Island, are in lockdown, has to be seen as a failure of advocacy?

Dr Harpreet Singh   1/07/2021 12:24:58 PM

But for some reason that defies logic completely it's OK to do ATSI HAs via telephone when NO OTHER health assessments have a telephone item number. Oh and also never had any time constraint on doing the ATSI HA item 715 and equivalents either!

Dr Samantha Ann Bryant   1/07/2021 5:38:09 PM

Care plans require no examination but prolonged discussions about goals and management and referrals. So patients with chronic health issues at high risk of covid complications need to come into a high risk setting at a doctors clinic for a prolonged time to organise this when it can all be organised over the telephone with no increased covid risk. As the elderly have now mastered telephone reviews in melbourne but have limited Telehealth skills.

Dr Rebecca   2/07/2021 6:51:47 PM

The irony of removing telehealth item numbers when we are in lockdown and it is preferable for patients not to attend medical clinics where possible is not lost on me!