Today we received the bitterly disappointing news that the Federal Government will not be extending the additional 10 Better Access sessions past 31 December 2022. This has come as shocking news, and we cannot be clearer with the extent to which we disagree with this decision. We deeply disagree with the rationales provided to support the cutting of services.
This decision will harm those most in need, and we will be making a clear case for the government to reverse this decision. This decision is a backwards step towards ‘Better Access’ to mental health care.
Given the devastating impact of the pandemic, regular natural disasters, increasing levels of mental ill-health and unprecedented demand, this decision is denying people the level of mental health care they so desperately need. We implore the Federal Government to give more consideration to the mental wellbeing of Australians.
Regarding practicalities, the Department of Health has advised that clients with a mental health treatment plan and current referral for sessions (whether for the initial 10 or additional 10) will be able to use that referral to access up to 10 sessions in 2023, without having to go back to their GP. This aligns with current arrangements for the rollover of unused Better Access sessions across calendar years. Please note usual MBS referral and item rules will apply.
AAPi continues to call for a $150 rebate for psychology clients across the board, which would make it so much more affordable for the general population as well as utilising the 7,900 strong provisional psychology workforce through Medicare rebates to reduce the long waiting lists we are seeing around the country.
We understand the high level of concern and distress this news will cause members and clients. AAPi will continue to fight for increased access to psychologists. We will provide further information as it comes to hand.
Further reading here.