Telehealth Changes to Cripple Regional Healthcare
Federal Member for Hebert Phillip Thompson has accused the Albanese Labor Government of putting its budget bottom line ahead of seriously ill patients, with plans to stop covering specialist telehealth appointments under Medicare.
A government-commissioned report has recommended the first appointment with a specialist doctor not be covered under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), which Mr Thompson says will result in reduced access to healthcare in Townsville and the wider North Queensland region.
“Telehealth for our region is very important as we are a long way from the capital, and travel to out-of-town specialists can be very expensive.” Mr Thompson said.
“We know that early treatment and seeking early medical intervention can save lives. So, to have people that potentially won’t get treatment because there won’t be any telehealth access, they will forego the consult.”
It’s a concern shared by Townsville patient and Crohn’s and Colitis Australia Board Member Dominique Tim So, who says the change would be a backwards step.
“I have met with a number of specialists to discuss how many of them require face-to-face assessments for the initial consult and they were very clear – it’s almost nil,” Ms Tim So said.
“Patients will delay, which means a delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment.”
Mr Thompson is urging the Albanese Labor Government not to adopt the change, and will raise the matter in Canberra next week.
“If the Albanese Labor Government implement this recommendation, it will become very clear that they are more worried about what their bottom line looks like than the health of Australians,” Mr Thompson said.
“Governments want to have healthy budgets, that looks great, but if people cannot get access to healthcare, that’s worse.”