Coronavirus (COVID-19) extensions for section 19AB

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

Six-month extensions

To support doctors responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will extend by 6 months section 19AB exemptions expiring from 1 May 2020.

This will help eligible doctors meet their section 19AB 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 19AA and Approved Medical Deputising Services Program conditions.

What you need to do

You don’t need to do anything.

We will automatically extend expiring section 19AB exemptions for 6 months from the expiry date.

Services Australia will send you a letter to confirm the extension, including your new expiry date.

If you are on a 6-month locum placement, we will allow a second 6-month placement at the same location. Services Australia will automatically process these extensions. But if you have an alternate locum placement, you can just ignore the extension.

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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