Rebates slashed: rural GPs forced to cut telehealth

In the mid-year budget update last week, Treasurer Wayne Swan unveiled sweeping cost-cutting measures to achieve the government’s promised budget surplus next year, including withholding telehealth items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from patients in outer metropolitan areas and major cities of Australia.

It came just 16 months after former health minister Nicola Roxon announced more than 20 telehealth MBS items – including a $6000 incentive for GPs – declaring that “ensuring telehealth services are