Medicare rebates for psychology will be great for the profession. All Australians will be able to access psychology treatment from qualified and registered psychologists. Sounded great at the start. Thirteen years ago, in 2006. An initiative that would enable psychologists to offer treatment subsidised by Medicare. Which it did. With problems. With changes and permanent damage to the psychology profession.
Better Access led to services delivered by clinical psychologists attracting a higher rebate for their clients. It skewed the profession. Australians were unable to choose who they wanted to see, in the same, equitable and affordable manner. Despite all psychologists being qualified and registered with AHPRA, clinical psychologists were now considered superior to other psychologists. The clinical psychology faction took over the APS, resulting in a total of 22 years of clinical psychologist presidents.
The clinically lead APS submitted their skewed case for the 2006 Better Access rebates. Clients of clinical psychologists thus began to receive and enjoy higher rebates under this initiative.
The PBA and AHPRA are dominated by clinical psychologists. The previous and current APS Boards, also dominated by clinical psychologists, submitted their proposals for the current MBS Review – again, and still, in favour of clinical and endorsed psychologists and their clients.
The differentiation based on endorsement was and remains an APS policy and has lead to:
- Centrelink and other agencies, favouring clinical psychologists as better than and superior to other psychologists
- many private practices recruiting clinical psychologists only (eg PsychExchange) for the significantly higher rebates under Better Access and other initiatives that also differentiate
- psychiatrists in the media acknowledging and approving of, albeit still begrudgingly, clinical psychologists only.
It seems we now have the updated 2019 version of the old 2006 promises. We are promised more sessions. We are promised 20 sessions not just 10. This time, the clients of endorsed psychologists will enjoy significantly higher rebates. The effect will be the same as after 2006. Non-clinical and non-endorsed psychologists will be restricted in whom they can see.
GPs who believe their clients will need more than 20 sessions will have to refer them on to endorsed psychologists and they may do so from the start. Why would a GP refer their client to a psychologist, knowing that the client will need to be ‘stepped’ to another, endorsed, psychologist, with higher rebates, having to start the referral and therapeutic process all over again? Much easier to refer to endorsed psychologists in the first place.
Do not be fooled. The currently proposed differentiation between endorsed and non-endorsed psychologists will cement the decimation of so-called ‘generalist’, non-clinical and non-endorsed psychologists, who make up 66% of all Australian psychologists (PBA, 2018).
Do not accept the APS policy and proposal of differentiation on the basis of endorsement.
The MBS Review continues to accept feedback: object to the APS policy and proposal.
If you have not yet renewed your APS membership, resign now – let them know that you object to their policy of differentiation.