A Border oncologist says a government decision to continue subsidising phone call consultations is a relief to cancer patients, their families and specialists.
Associate Professor Christopher Steer said telehealth reforms that would have reduced access to Medicare rebates for such calls would have disadvantaged people not able to use video options, such as the elderly or those without stable internet.
The government will introduce temporary specialist inpatient telehealth - via video and phone - including initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items, and longer telephone consultations for GPs until June 30, 2022.
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"These services will be made available nationally rather than targeted to Commonwealth-declared hotspots as they were previously, recognising the high infection rate and need to provide healthcare support across the community," Mr Hunt said.
Associate Professor Steer, who is president of the Private Cancer Physicians of Australia, said his group supported the government last month making telehealth permanent, "but then the fine print was only revealed days before Christmas".
"At a time of surging pandemic, we need our immunocompromised vulnerable Australians to stay at home and not be forced to travel into public areas where COVID-19 may be rampant," he said.
"We will do all we can to work with the government to reduce the out-of-pocket costs of those already struggling with cancer and ensure any future policy decisions do not add to the financial toxicity of their cancer journey."
The association also welcomed the extension of telehealth rebates for patients who are in hospital to receive a phone consultation with their specialist.
- with AAP
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