COVID-19 information for healthcare providers

COVID-19 arrangements for our clients during the pandemic, including vaccinations.

The World Health Organization has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic. As a result, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is currently engaged in a whole-of-government response to this global health issue. This response continues to evolve and DVA is prioritising resources to ensure we can continue to meet the essential care needs of all DVA clients, including vulnerable and at-risk clients.

On 26 April 2021, the Government announced the extension of temporary health measures to 31 December 2021. All Australians can continue to access healthcare services, including allied health treatment, by telephone and video conferencing. Details of the extension can be found in the Minister for Health’s media release.

Until 31 December 2021, temporary MBS and DVA telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers.

General practitioners (GPs), specialist medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, participating midwives and allied health providers are able to provide services via telephone and video conferencing capabilities. A service may only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.

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General Practitioners

From 1 July 2021, GP telephone consultations will only be available for short consultations. Video consultations will continue to be available for longer consultations.

In addition, the Government has introduced a service fee to support general practices to administer the vaccine for frail, elderly and/ or immobile people in their own homes including residential aged care and disability facilities. 

From 20 July 2020, GPs are required to have an existing and continuous relationship with a patient in order to provide telehealth services under temporary COVID-19 arrangements. A relationship is defined as the GP, or another provider in the same practice, has provided at least one face-to-face service to the patient in the last 12 months.

Exemptions to this requirement will apply to:

  • infants under the age of 12 months;
  • people experiencing homelessness;
  • people living in a COVID-19 impacted area;
  • urgent after-hours services (in unsociable hours); and
  • services provided by a medical practitioner located at an Aboriginal Medical Service or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service

This will ensure patients continue to receive quality, ongoing care from a GP who knows their medical history and needs. This change also responds to advice from medical experts, such as the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

For further information about these changes, please visit the MBS Online website.

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Medical specialist, nursing, and pathology professionals

The DVA Fee Schedules for Medical Services has been updated to mirror the temporary MBS telehealth arrangements. Further details on the new items, including patient and provider eligibility, can be found on the MBS Online website. Any queries related to the interpretation of these new MBS items should be directed to askMBS [at] health.gov.au

The DVA fee schedules and medical software vendor files are located on the DVA website.

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Allied health professionals

Allied health services (except dental, optical and neuropsychology services) can be delivered to DVA clients by telehealth. DVA has updated the fee schedules for allied health providers which have been published on the fee schedules page. All eligible allied health professions are able to claim for telehealth services until 31 December 2021.

Treatment cycle arrangements continue to apply for DVA clients seeking to access allied health services through telephone and video conferencing. Where required, clients may also access a GP referral for clinically required allied health treatment via a telehealth consultation.

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Support services and resources for your veteran patients

Mental health support

Access to prescriptions and pharmaceuticals

  • Vulnerable people, including eligible veterans, can order their Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions remotely, and have their medicines home-delivered, once a month, to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • You can visit the Department of Health website for information on home medicine services, or contact your local pharmacy.

Shopping services for eligible veterans

  • Older and at-risk veterans may access shopping support provided by Veterans’ Home Care (VHC). Veterans can call the VHC Assessment Agency directly on 1300 550 450. A doctor’s referral is not required to access these services.

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COVID-19 vaccinations for DVA clients

The national COVID-19 vaccination program is now underway for all Australians, including DVA clients. Providers can keep across current status or changes to arrangements via the Department of Health website.

There are some key things GPs need to know about administering the vaccine to Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) clients.

Information for GPs administering the COVID-19 vaccine to DVA clients

  • Arrangements for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to DVA clients are the same as the arrangements for the general public.
  • You use the same Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) item numbers used for the general public for DVA clients.
  • DVA clients can use their Veteran Card as per usual DVA arrangements.
  • As with all medical services provided to DVA white card holders, general practitioners (GPs) will only be able to bill the MBS COVID-19 vaccine item to DVA if it relates to an accepted condition. When processing claims, Services Australia will accept the clinical judgment of the GP to determine what accepted condition would require the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • White card holders who do not have an accepted condition receiving the vaccination can be billed through Medicare arrangements.

Immunisation record

  • COVID-19 vaccinations are recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register. To access their immunisation history statement DVA clients will need either a Medicare number or an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI).
  • If the DVA client doesn’t have a Medicare Card or an IHI, this is an opportune time to encourage them to either enrol in Medicare or to apply for an IHI. DVA clients will have an IHI if they receive a DVA pension or benefit.
  • DVA has information on COVID-19 vaccinations for DVA clients.
  • Providers are encouraged to keep across current status or changes to arrangements via the Department of Health website.

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Further information

Please note: This webpage will continue to be updated regularly as new arrangements come into place. We thank you for your vigilance at this time, and your ongoing support for veterans and their families.

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