Federal government cuts psychologist visits for Australians seeking mental health treatment

Subsidized visits to psychologists will be cut in half within weeks as the new federal government scraps a program added at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Mark Butler said patients could only claim Medicare reimbursements for 10 visits to a psychologist next year, compared to the 20 they have been able to access in recent years.

In August 2020, the number of sessions available through the Better Access program was temporarily increased from 10 to 20.

Mr Butler said that while the Better Access program had provided benefits to people who used it, not everyone had been able to access it in the same way.

“The assessment I’m releasing today took into account the impact of those 10 additional sessions and found that they resulted in a very large increase in service in this industry overall,” Butler said. .

“But it found that these 10 additional waiting lists made existing waiting lists worse and increased barriers to access, especially by (people in rural and socio-economically disadvantaged areas).

“The evaluation found that all additional services went to existing patients and the number of new patients who were able to enter the system and gain access to psychology services actually decreased by 7 percent.”

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