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Medicare access to life-saving treatment for people with eating disorders

Australians with complex eating disorders will now be able to access new services through Medicare that will help save lives.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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From today, Australians with complex eating disorders will be able to access new services through Medicare that will help save lives.

In December 2018, the Morrison Government announced it would invest $110.7 million through Medicare to enable these life-saving services to be subsidised for the first time.

Today, our Government delivers on this commitment.

These new services will support eligible people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia and other complex eating disorders to access up to 40 psychological services and 20 dietetic services, under the care of their GP or specialist.

The new items represent a historic advance in the quality and affordability of care provided to those facing the devastating challenge of an eating disorder, enabling those affected, their families and their carers to get the support they desperately need and deserve.

Under the changes, health practitioners will be better able to deliver a full course of treatment, as their patients will have one comprehensive care plan and be able to claim the services through Medicare.

It is estimated that around 900,000 Australians have an eating disorder. These disorders affect not only the patient, but also their families and loved ones, and have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness.

The Government asked the expert clinician-led MBS Review Taskforce to provide advice on how the Medicare Benefits Schedule could be improved to assist patients with eating disorders.

The items were developed by the Taskforce through extensive consultation and design of accreditation standards with experts from across the sector. They support a model of best practice, evidence-based care for patients and encourage a multidisciplinary approach involving a range of clinical expertise.

This will mean more, better connected services. It will mean fewer repeat visits back to the hospital. It will mean better health outcomes for people living with these debilitating disorders.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Taskforce and the sector in their commitment to help save lives.

These new services are part of the Government’s commitment to supporting people with eating disorders. This includes:

  • $63 million to establish a national network of community based residential eating disorder treatment centres which will provide wrap-around support and specialist care 
  • $13.6 million from 2016-17 to 2021-22 to support the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) to develop a nationally consistent best-practice approach to the prevention and management of eating disorders. 
  • $1.5 million each year to 2021 for the Butterfly Foundation’s national online counselling service 1800 ED HOPE, which provides free support, counselling and guidance on treatments and referral options to people affected by an eating disorder, including family, friends and health professionals.

The Government is also investing in research to support prevention and better identification and treatment of eating disorders.

This includes $5 million for research into eating disorders through the Million Minds Health Research Mission and $4 million to the InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders to develop a strategy for research into eating disorders and translating it into clinical practice. 

This research will help build understanding of how prevention, early identification, and evidence-based treatment will help Australians with eating disorders to access world-class support.

Information regarding the new Medicare items structure can be obtained at MBSOnline.


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