APA Advocacy during COVID-19

Updated 8 April 2020

Our members like many allied health workers are focused on the general health and wellbeing of the community. The COVID-19 pandemic places an added level of complexity and concern for patient care. The current situation is significantly affecting services and businesses everywhere. Our priority will always be with patients, the safety of practice staff and continuity of your practices.

Daily member updates

The APA is providing daily member updates on advocacy work during this time. These updates are available here.

Most recent highlights

Wednesday 8 April 2020:

  • The National Cabinet has agreed on a mandatory Code of Practice for commercial leasing relief
  • Bulk billing of MBS telehealth items is no longer required.

Tuesday 7 April 2020:

  • The APA is advocating for greatest flexibility to help private practices make the right decisions about their businesses and employees with certainty
  • The APA is pursuing all options for the extension of funding for telehealth service delivery.

Wednesday 1 April 2020:

  • The APA has written to the Minister for Aged Care seeking extension of provision 12.4 with RACFS beyond massage and to include exercise
  • The APA has been in regular contact with DVA regarding enabling service delivery by telehealth and relaxing the treatment cycle

Telehealth

APA advocacy is working hard behind the scenes to advocate for funded telehealth services. This includes working with relevant third-party payers such as compensable schemes, DVA, MBS and Private Health Insurers to demonstrate the value and need for telehealth. Rest assured we have well developed relationships with many funders and are using these relationships to advocate for the physiotherapy profession.

We have used our existing relationship with Minister Hunt to achieve an extension of the temporary MBS telehealth item to include physiotherapy services for people in isolation or quarantine for COVID-19 and vulnerable patients as defined in the COVID-19 MBS telehealth items.

We have also successfully negotiated telehealth funding with Private Health Australia. This is a particularly nuanced space and we are very pleased to see progress in this arena. Details regarding this funding can be found here.

We are well placed to see some significant shifts in the coming days.

Webinars

A priority right now is rapidly embedding telehealth into physiotherapy practices. Often these are practices who have not previously considered telehealth.

We are mindful of your need to adjust your business model while also ensuring services offered in the online environment are safe, evidence-based and of high quality.

To assist in this transition, we provided several webinars, which have been recorded and available on the Telehealth page.

Reducing Demand Emergency Departments and General Practices

We are using our State connections to advocate for the temporary diversion of acute musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries (Category 4 and 5) from EDs and general practices to physiotherapy practices. This will reduce demand on an increasingly overloaded system.

We recognise not every practice is equipped to respond to the assessment and management of acute musculoskeletal injuries.

As this advocacy work unfolds we will provide further updates.