The Federal Government could save $117.5m through cuts to Medicare-funded mental health services, while still reinstating the right to six additional sessions under exceptional circumstances, according to the Australian Psychological Society, which represents 20,000 psychologists around Australia.
The Government hoped to save $174.6 million by slashing the number of Medicare-funded sessions with a psychologist under the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative from a potential 18 to 10. But a Senate Inquiry last year called on the changes to be delayed because of grave concerns about the estimated 87,000 people with significant mental health problems who would be left without care each year.
Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the Australian Psychological Society, said: “A large number of vulnerable Australians have been left without access to crucial care. With a slight adjustment to the rules and a relatively small expenditure, the Government can protect them, while keeping the cuts it has used for other mental health investments.”
She said: “The Better Access to Mental Health Care scheme has given access to mental health care for countless Australians who previously had no means of getting help. Given the increasing social and financial costs of mental health problems in Australia, this effective and cost-effective initiative must be protected.”
Read the media release here