How does the chronic disease management initiative differ from the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative?

There are several important differences between the two initiatives with respect to the provision of psychological services. The chronic disease management (CDM) scheme has a focus primarily on 'chronic or complex medical illness'. The managing GP will refer the person to a psychologist if they feel that psychological services can assist in improving the management of the physical disease. The referral comes from a GP who has developed a GP Management Plan along with Team Care Arrangements that have been developed with at least two other allied health professionals.

The Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative aims to provide better care for those with a 'mental disorder' and therefore the focus is more on mental, rather than physical health. Under the Better Access initiative, the referral can come from a GP who has developed a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or a psychiatrist assessment and management plan, or a psychiatrist or paediatrician on direct referral.

Under the CDM scheme, the client can only claim a rebate for a total of five allied health services in a calendar year for all allied health services combined, including psychology. Under the Better Access initiative an eligible client can receive rebates for up to 12 psychological services.

All registered psychologists with a Medicare Provider Number are eligible to provide psychological services under the CDM scheme. However, the eligibility requirements for provision of services under the Better Access initiative are more complex. To read about the eligibility criteria go to Mental Health Medicare Items: How to apply to provide psychological services.

Does the Medicare Safety Net apply to client out-of-pocket expenses under this initiative?

Yes. You are responsible for paying any charges in excess of the Medicare rebate for services under this scheme. However, these out-of-pocket expenses will count towards the Medicare Safety Net. The Medicare Safety Net is designed to protect high users of health services from large out-of-pocket expenses. For more information on the Medicare Safety Net, go to: www.medicareaustralia.gov.au.