Freeze funding cuts or patients lose out

THE federal government faces new pressure to freeze its $400 million funding cut to the Better Access mental health program after a crucial report warned patients may fall through gaps in the system because no alternative option is in place.

The government announced the changes – which hinge on slashing GP mental health rebates and the number of subsidised psychologist visits – as part of the federal budget this year, along with plans to redirect resources to the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program, which targets the disadvantaged.

The Senate inquiry was sparked when GPs and psychologists staunchly opposed the change, saying the cuts would drive up the cost for patients of the unexpectedly popular GP mental health plans while locking out patients who may not be eligible for ATAPS subsidised care.

After several delays due to the large number of submissions, the Senate committee delivered its report last week, the same