Coronavirus (COVID-19) extensions for section 19AA

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on doctors. Read about what we’re doing to help doctors meet their section 19AA conditions during the pandemic.

Six-month extensions

To support doctors responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will extend by 6 months 3GA workforce program placements expiring from 1 May 2020.

Ongoing program requirements are suspended while it is not possible to complete them. These requirements are to:

  • undertake specific education
  • apply for fellowship programs with the general practice colleges
  • take fellowship exams

These extensions will not contribute to the maximum program participation limits.

This will help eligible doctors meet their section 19AA of the Health Insurance Act 1973 conditions and continue to provide Medicare services to patients.

We will provide these automatic extensions for as long as required during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is likely to be for at least the next 6 months, unless the situation eases significantly before then. 

Read about the COVID-19 measures we have put in place to help doctors meet their section 19AB and Approved Medical Deputising Services Program conditions.

Programs affected

These measures apply to the:

  • Special Approved Placements Program (SAPP)
  • Approved Medical Deputising Services (AMDS)
  • More Doctors for Rural Australia Program (MDRAP)
  • Rural Locum Relief Program (RLRP)
  • Rural Australian College of General Practice’s Practice Experience Program
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine’s Independent Pathway

What you need to do

You don’t need to do anything.

We will give an automatic extension to doctors who are not within 6 months of the maximum participation period. This extension will start from the expiry date.

We will review doctors who are reaching the maximum period for their program. These reviews will consider:

  • prior 3GA program participation
  • progress to fellowship
  • exam history

We will let you know the outcome in writing, and confirm your new conditions, including your new expiry date.

These extensions will not contribute to the maximum periods of:

  • SAPP — 2 years (5 years in extenuating circumstances)
  • AMDS — 10 years
  • MDRAP — 2 years (4 years in extenuating circumstances)
  • RLRP — 2 or 4 years

New placements

The process to apply for a new placement has not changed.  

Location restrictions

Location restrictions remain in place.

Doctors and medical practices are facing high workloads and reduced workforce availability due to COVID-19. Many of these practices are in Distribution Priority Areas and Districts of Workforce Shortage, and were already facing many challenges.

Keeping doctors in these areas is critical.

Doctors working in COVID-19 respiratory clinics

Separate funding arrangements are in place for the respiratory clinics, so you do not need access to a Medicare benefit.

If you do not already have a Medicare provider number (MPN) at the clinic, you can apply for a ‘refer and request’ only MPN. Services Australia will prioritise these applications.

Next steps

We continue to review our policies to support the health workforce in this changing environment. We will keep you informed as things progress.

Last updated: 
7 May 2020

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