Temporary changes to requirements under s19AA and 19AB of the Health Insurance Act—COVID-19

7 May 2020

The Department of Health is implementing several short-term measures to waive or streamline Medicare program requirements to support doctors responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Eligible doctors will receive an automatic 6-month extension of s3GA placements and 19AB exemptions expiring from 1 May 2020, including extension of locum placements. Extensions will be processed on a month-by-month basis (approximately 6 weeks in advance of expiry) and all extensions will be confirmed with each doctor via letter or email. No application form will be required for these extensions. 

Doctors who are within 6 months of reaching the maximum participation period will be reviewed by the Department before an extension is granted. The review will include consideration of a doctor’s prior 3GA program participation and progress to fellowship (including exam history). Doctors who are not granted an extension will be notified by email/letter by the Department.  

The Department is also waiving program requirements that can no longer be met due to the current circumstances, including: 

  • All program milestones will be suspended for 6 months i.e. doctors will not need to complete fellowship exams or apply to college led fellowship programs.  
  • Extensions will not count towards program participation maximum. 
  • For current AMDS doctors, evidence of Advanced Life Support re-certification will be waived for 6 months.  

The 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) 
  • RACGP Practice Experience Program (PEP) 
  • ACRRM Independent Pathway 

Some conditions and exemptions are attached to these changes, which are explained in the attached Summary of Changes document.

Changes to workforce programs are anticipated to continue for up to 6 months (pending regular review). Any placement already extended will remain in place until the amended expiry date.  

Legislative requirements around 19AA and 19AB for all new applications will remain unchanged. It is important that doctors who are required to work in a DPA or a DWS are not drawn away from these communities in need during COVID-19. 

Any questions on these changes should be sent to 19AB@health.gov.au.