Have Your Say: Medicare Evaluation Update

The Department of Health is currently conducting an evaluation of the Better Access Initiative, supported by a University of Melbourne-led research consortium. You may be aware that the evaluation is seeking to:

  • find out if Better Access improves patient outcomes
  • find out if Better Access increases access to mental health care
  • recommend any changes to improve Better Access.

OTA considers this a key priority area and we’ve been undertaking a range of activities to represent the interests of the profession and address issues such as rebate levels and workforce distribution. A key concern was ensuring that the profession’s eligibility to provide Better Access services remained. We wrote to the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, in late 2021 to ensure that the profession was not at risk. We were pleased to hear that changes to occupational therapy access to the Better Access program are not being considered.

OTA is represented in the Better Access Evaluation Stakeholder Engagement Group and will primarily work through that group to further our advocacy efforts. An independent mental health occupational therapist is also participating in the Clinical Advisory Group for the project, ensuring that the profession has a voice.

OTA has used our role in the SEG to raise a number of questions about the representation of the profession in the research work being undertaken. We have been pleased to see adjustments made that shift the focus from psychology to a more appropriate representation of all three mental health professions. We’ll be monitoring the outcomes of the research work to ensure mental health occupational therapy is well-represented.

To ensure that we can best represent the profession over the coming months as the evaluation continues, we’re seeking your support. We’d like to hear from you if you’re interested in joining a short-term working group focused on the Better Access evaluation. We’re seeking members working under Medicare that we can draw on for information and case studies as the evaluation progresses. While there is no formal commitment required, we’ll be contacting those that nominate themselves to provide advice or information at various times, often at short notice. Please get in touch with us via haveyoursay@otaus.com.au to express interest in the working group or to provide feedback.

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