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AMA President Appeals for Medical Rebate for All GPs Amid Virus

SYDNEY, Australia – AMA president, Dr. Tony Bartone, appeals for Medicare rebate offer to all GPs and medical specialists during the coronavirus outbreak.

The virus outbreak has been affecting a lot of sectors in the country, not to mention its global impacts as well. The primary focus of the Australian government currently is to contain the increasing cost and demand due to the pandemic. However, it often takes precedence over the safety of all patients in the coronavirus management. It is more so because the Aussie government declines any extension of Medical rebates towards telehealth consultations for Australian patients.

Meanwhile, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr. Tony Bartone, pleads for the Medicare rebate. He appeals that the government will allow for the reimbursement to cover all GP’s and medical specialists as well, especially when they consult with patients over the phone during the pandemic.

At the moment, the Australian government allows telehealth consults as part of the country’s coronavirus response to all its citizens. It is according to the announcement from last week. However, the permitted telehealth consults are very limited currently. It only covers for consults made by people who are ages 70 years old and above, parents with newborns, pregnant women, and those diagnosed with chronic illnesses.

According to a statement from AMA, the Medicare rebate should be available for all Australian citizens. Giving access to the discount to all patients will work a long way to ensure that no one has to risk going out and catching the virus as they sit in the waiting room at the clinic.

AMA said that the availability of the rebate to all would also help avoid the frontline medical workforce from catching the virus from patients who are potentially positive of the virus. It can also allow sick doctors or those in quarantine to continue providing their services as part of the medical workforce, especially as the country is currently overwhelmed by the spreading disease.

Dr. Bartone said that providing more extensive access to telehealth consults that would cover the entire country means doctors who, otherwise, couldn’t involve themselves, can still help assess COVID-19 patients. That will include doctors who are currently putting themselves in self-isolation, which takes a total of 14 days.

During the meeting of the peak doctors group of the country, Dr. Omar Khorshid also commented about pushing the availability of the rebate further. He said that unless telehealth comes with much broader coverage, the spreading virus will take out the country’s medical workforce from the system. That will also include doctors, specialists, GPs, nurses, and all their practices.

Dr. Korshid also said during an interview that more patients are currently sitting inside waiting rooms. Most who are positive of the virus are also infecting others, and this is a huge reason why the virus is likely to spread even further, he said.

He added that at this time, where there is a grave risk of the COVID-19 infecting more people, working from home is likely to be the best strategy to help contain the virus. Dr. Korshid said that remote working is also not only the perfect option for doctors doing consultations but for all industries and sectors as well to help deal with the calamity as safely as possible.

He further stated that despite a doctor experiencing moderate sickness at home or is currently in a self-imposed quarantines is still capable of doing consultations with patients. Dr. Korshid, that remote workforce in the medical field is possible if the government will put an infrastructure in place to allow them to do that.

Furthermore, he blamed the bureaucrats trying to pinch the money that could offer help to all patients, as they decide against extending telehealth consultations broadly.

Dr. Koshid also stated that he is not privy about any discussions that are currently happening in the health department. However, he said there is a level of concern and anxiety over the virus containment of Medicare, like always.

He said that allowing the broader coverage of Medicare rebate is more likely going to save the government a lot of money. Dr. Koshid commented that the measure could help remove the need for doctors and specialists to physically perform consultations to all patients to qualify for the discount.

So, the AMA put forward a proposal to help address the issue. Under it includes the appeal for doctors to get a similar Medical rebate for their services during the pandemic. It means that they will get the same reimbursement for doing telehealth consultations as they usually do when they perform physical consultations with their patients.

With the continued spread of the COVID-19, it is more necessary to have a medical workforce that is easily accessible for everyone in the country, wherever they are. It can be a great help, along with the new measures of the government, to help stop the spread of the virus.

Currently, all international arrivals to the country will need to undergo a compulsory self-imposed quarantine requirement of 14 days, as announced by the Prime Minister.

Australia’s death toll related to coronavirus is also increasing. Queensland now records its first death related to COVID-19, along with three news deaths of Australians aged 78, 82, and 95. It now brings the total number of deaths in the country to five following the deaths of two older women last week that now comes with a confirmation that they were positive of the virus.

Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also said that those advised to under self-imposed isolation due to COVID-19 reasons need to pay a $13,000 fine if they don’t obey.

The Premier also commented that there are currently random police checks happening in the state to ensure that over 3,000 Queenslanders are following the home quarantine requirement. At the moment, Queensland has a total of 61 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which significantly increased from the 47 cases recorded a day prior.

Meanwhile, Gladys Berejiklian, the New South Wales Premier, said that she expects other residents to report those who violate the self-isolation compliance following their return from a trip overseas. However, she stated that the policy is challenging to enforce and will need a high level of goodwill from the public.

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