PACFA welcomes new MBS services for Eating Disorders

PACFA welcomes the announcement over the weekend by the Federal Government that they will amend the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to improve access to treatment for eating disorders. The landmark $110.7 million package will benefit around 30,000 people each year living with severe eating disorders, helping to save lives and keep sufferers out of hospital.

Those with eating disorders will be able to access up to 40 psychological services and 20 dietetic services each year, under Medicare, from 1 November 2019.

This announcement follows PACFA’s submission in June to the MBS Review, and the Report of the Eating Disorders Working Group in November, which was established to provide recommendations to the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, on treatment services for eating disorders.  PACFA has been well-represented on the Working Group by PACFA President, Dr Di Stow, who was invited to join the Working Group by the Health Minister.

The Working Group’s Report recommended the inclusion of counsellors and psychotherapists in the delivery of the specialist services and PACFA continues to advocate to the Health Minister for Medicare numbers and GST exemption to be extended to counsellors and psychotherapists to enable them to be part of the specialist workforce delivering the new services.

PACFA’s submission in June 2018, and feedback on the Report, raised concerns that eating disorders are seriously under-serviced through the MBS. PACFA argued that the increasing prevalence of eating disorders requires specialist services provided by mental health practitioners who have appropriate training in eating disorders.

PACFA’s contributions drew on the expertise of members who specialise in working with clients with eating disorders, including members of the PACFA Research Committee and Emma Hodges from the College of Counselling Leadership Group.

PACFA welcomes this important lifesaving announcement for those suffering with eating disorders. We eagerly await further details and will keep PACFA members informed once they are made available.