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New GP Medicare items available from 1 November 2006

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New GP Medicare items available from 1 November 2006 Thursday, 2 November 2006

Dr Dennis Jensen welcomed the changes developed by the Government, in consultation with peak GP representative groups. The new medicare initiatives are available on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 November 2006.

“Access to mental health services is being improved around the nation,” Dr Jensen exclaimed.

The 2006-07 Budget contained a $538 million commitment to provide an initiative, known as Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and GPs through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

“Better Access will increase community access to mental health professionals and team-based mental health care, with general practitioners encouraged to work closely and collaboratively with psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and other allied mental health professionals,” Dr Jensen said.

Preventative care is an important part of the health agenda so there will be a new Medicare rebate for GPs to provide a preventative health check to people aged between 45 and 49 years who are at risk of developing a chronic disease. This health

check will support GPs to put in place early intervention strategies and assist patients to make necessary life changes to prevent or delay the onset of chronic disease.

A new item to provide non-directive, support and counselling services to women, has been made available to address pregnancy related issues. They are directed to women with concerns about a current pregnancy or a pregnancy which occurred in the

preceding 12 months.

Eligibility for existing MBS items for practice nurses to undertake Pap smears on behalf of GPs is being extended to cover all parts of Australia. These items will assist women to access cervical screening and other important health checks and will be available for services provided in both urban and rural areas. (Previously these items were available in rural and remote areas only.)

Dr Jensen applauded the new initiatives and preventative health measures, adding, “We all must take a responsible approach to our health by developing a healthy lifestyle and taking a preventative approach.”