Two Tier Medicare Rebate System for Psychological Therapy Services

Page last updated: 24 October 2018

The Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative includes a range of Medicare rebateable services for eligible people with a diagnosed mental disorder, including psychological strategies provided by GPs, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, registered psychologists and appropriately trained social workers and occupational therapists. Allied mental health services available under this initiative include Psychological Therapy services provided by eligible clinical psychologists and Focussed Psychological Strategies provided by eligible registered psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

The rebates available under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) broadly recognise the different levels of training and experience associated with the provision of services by general medical practitioners and specialist medical practitioners. As there are several recognised specialities within the practice of psychology, including clinical psychology, the MBS rebates for psychological therapy services were established on this principle.

As part of the Government’s Healthier Medicare initiative, the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce (the Taskforce) is undertaking a review of the entire MBS to consider how its more than 5700 items can be aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and practice and improve health outcomes for patients. The review is independent and clinician-led, with recommendations made to the Minister for Health.

As part of the Review, a Mental Health Reference Group (MHRG) was formed in June 2018 to review the mental health MBS items. This MHRG includes representatives of each profession eligible to deliver services under the Better Access initiative including both registered and clinical psychologists, as well as related professions such as mental health nurses and counsellors. The Group has considered more than 300 submissions made over the course of the MBS review relating to mental health.

The MHRG has concluded its review of mental health MBS items and is currently finalising a draft report for the Taskforce’s consideration. A further consultation process will be undertaken prior to the report being finalised.

Further information on the MBS review, including process updates and a full list of the membership of the Mental Health Review Group, is available on the Department of Health website.