From 20 to 10 – changes to the Better Access initiative

From 20 to 10 – changes to the Better Access initiative

Posted on Jan 10, 2023

The Better Access initiative provides Medicare rebates to people in order that they can access the mental health services they need. In mid-December, the initiative’s scope changed. The changes will impact many of Turn The Corner’s patients.

In the old days, pre-COVID, patients with a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) could access 10 of these subsidised sessions with a psychologist (or other MH specialist) in the 12 months following that plan being prepared. During COVID, this was upped to a maximum of 20 subsidised sessions in the year.

The Government has now dropped the limit on subsidised sessions back to 10, effective 31 December 2022. What does this mean for you?

  1. If you had a MHTP prepared in the last 12 months, and you’ve used fewer than 10 sessions, you can use the balance up to 10 in the remainder of the year that your plan is valid.
  2. If you had a MHTP, or MHTP Review, prepared by a GP in the last 12 months, and you haven’t yet seen your mental health professional (psychologist, mental health OT, mental health social worker or GP working in Focussed Psychological Strategies) for the full number of sessions listed in your most recent plan or referral, you can see your therapist for the remaining unused sessions on that most recent referral. Groups of sessions on a referral for psychological therapy can carry over into a new calendar year – this includes the “COVID 10” group of additional sessions.

Under Medicare rules, you are allowed to receive a MHTP from a GP only once in a 12-month period. If at least a year has passed since your last plan was provided, you can obtain a new Care Plan from your favourite Turn The Corner doctor by booking a “Mental Health consult or plan (In clinic)” appointment or, if you’re an existing patient who has visited the clinic in the last 12 months, you have a telehealth option too, “30 Min Private video call”.

Related, you can see your GP for a MHTP Review a few times a year (to refer you for another group of therapy sessions, if needed). Under Medicare rules, a MHTP Review can happen as long as it has been at least 4 weeks since the full MHTP was provided, or at least 3 months since the last MHTP Review. In 2023 it is likely your next referral for sessions will be for a group of 6 sessions, followed by a referral for a group of 4 sessions (noting that you can now get a maximum of 10 rebates per calendar year). You can book a MHTP Review using the same appointment types noted above.

Please note you’re unable to request a new Mental Health Treatment Plan using the HotDoc “Repeat Referral” function. That is for a different purpose, namely asking your GP to update a specialist referral should the specialist have requested it. Per Medicare’s rules, obtaining a new MHTP requires you to have an appointment with a doctor.