Medicare announcement of new psychology items heralds new era for mental health services in Australia

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The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is delighted with the new psychology Medicare items announced today by Prime Minister John Howard. "A great outcome has been achieved that will allow all registered psychologists to provide services under Medicare," said APS President, Amanda Gordon.

"All Australians will now have access to effective treatment for mental health problems. The reforms are a significant recognition of the effectiveness of psychological treatments delivered by psychologists, representing a major milestone for mental health and the profession of psychology," said Gordon.

The Medicare initiative has been designed to encourage team-based mental health care in the community, with psychologists working alongside GPs, psychiatrists, mental health nurses and other allied mental health professionals.

The mental health psychology items involve two categories - 'general' psychology services, which can be provided by all registered psychologists and 'specialist' clinical psychology services, provided by psychologists with specialised training and qualifications.

Key components of the Government's announcement include:

  • Psychology services under Medicare can be provided to people with 'an assessed mental disorder' that is being managed by a GP under a GP Mental Health Care Plan or a psychiatrist assessment and management plan, or on direct referral from a psychiatrist or a paediatrician (for treatment of a child)

  • Psychology services under Medicare are limited to a maximum of 12 individual sessions per client per calendar year, with a review to the referring doctor required after the initial six sessions. Clients will also be eligible for up to 12 group session services, where appropriate, in a calendar year

  • All registered psychologists can charge the scheduled fee of $62.50 (20-50 minute session) or $88.20 (more than a 50 minute session) to clients, who will receive a Medicare rebate of $53.15 and $75.00 respectively. Registered psychologists who are eligible to provide the clinical psychology items can charge the scheduled fee of $88.20 (30-50 minute session) or $129.40 (more than a 50 minute session) to clients, who will receive a Medicare rebate of $75.00 and $110.00 respectively.

"This outcome is one that will allow as many Australians as possible to access effective psychological treatment for mental health problems through our nation's health system, from the greatest number of psychologists who have the competence to deliver them. This is indeed a most important advance for psychology and the community," said Gordon.

For full details of the new Medicare items see Medicare

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About the Australian Psychological Society
The APS is the peak professional body for Australian psychologists. With more than 15,000 members and 40 branches across the country, the APS is the largest of all non-medical health professionals' associations in Australia. The APS advocates for psychologists at all levels, and is committed to consulting and liaising with government, public and private bodies, the media and other professional associations on behalf of the profession.

For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager, Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068