Our small team is receiving a lot of phone calls and emails from our members and I understand that you have the following questions:
- What does the Victorian government’s advice to cease practicing myotherapy mean for me?
- what is the latest regarding on the spot claiming?
- what does government require of me?
- how can I help MA working for our members?
- what is MA doing to help our members?
Let me answer those questions one-by-one.
What Does the Victorian Government’s Advice to Cease Practicing Myotherapy Mean?
We received an email from the Victorian Public Health Team dated 31/3/20 stating “Myotherapy and Massage Therapy Services are classified as non-essential for the purpose of the State of Emergency for coronavirus.”
Based on advice from our indemnity insurers, we are required to share all government advice with our members and to comply with that advice. As such, on 31/3/20, we advised all of our members in Victoria to cease practicing.
Many of you have been asking for the email we received from the Victorian government, so that you can qualify for government assistance. The email is poorly worded and confusing and does not contain any links to any formal government announcement.
I spent many hours trying to contact the Victorian Department of Health and the Minister’s office. Eventually, after speaking to the Minister’s office, at 5:30 today, I received a phone call from someone at the Victorian Department of Health. She has escalated our concerns within the department, but asked me not to distribute the email at this time.
After our conversations, the Victorian government promised to clarify the situation. They issued the following FAQ on its website, dated 2 April 2020.
Which beauty and personal care businesses are currently prohibited?
All care services where there is close contact for a prolonged period between the client and the therapist, including:
- Beauty therapy, spray-tanning, waxing and nail salons
- Tattoo and piercing parlours
- Spas and massage parlours providing relaxation massages as distinct from therapeutic or remedial massage.
Allied health services, such as physiotherapy and podiatry can continue to operate as normal.
I have again, this morning, contacted the Department and explained that issuing an FAQ that contradicts their email has simply caused more confusion in the industry. I have asked them to urgently issue a clarifying statement. If this does not occur, I will distribute the Department’s confusing email of 31 March to our members.
I am aware how important this is for all our members and I will continue to follow this up, every day until we have an answer for you.
What is the Latest Regarding on the Spot Claiming?
Updates are regularly changing on this front and MA continues to work with the relevant organisations (health funds, hicaps, etc) to keep our members up-to-date on what is happening in this area.
HICAPS is supporting all their customers through this challenging time with three month terminal rental fee waiver. The terminal rental fee waiver (1 April 2020 through to 30 June 2020) will be applied automatically, so there is no need to do anything. (All other fees remain unchanged.) Further details can be found here.
(b) CBA terminals
CBA has advised that the EFTPOS function has been removed on HealthPoint terminals from 1 April. However, health fund claims can still go through until the end of June, although this function is unsupported. Unfortunately, there is no information available on the internet at this stage. However, CBA has informed us they will update their website in coming days. Providers can ring the bank on 1800 230 177.
(c) Health Fund on the Spot Claiming
Some health funds have advised us that they are removing access to the Hicaps facility until the government advises that the virus is contained. They have further advised that claims submitted by other means will be reviewed carefully and audited if necessary.
Other health funds (such as CBHS) are advising us that “previously, claims may have been rejected due to the restrictions however as of today’s date [2 April], claims can be submitted.”
What does Government Require of Myotherapists?
This is the Number One Thing that MA is working on right now. We are working together with other professional associations that represent myotherapists and allied health practitioners to try and clarify the confusing and mixed messages coming from the different Australian governments.
On 31 March, together with ANTA, ATMS and MMA, we sent a joint letter called “clear the confusion” [link] to all Commonwealth, State and Territory health ministers, health departments, small business ministers and small business offices.
Unfortunately, most of the responses we have received are unhelpful. We have summarised all the responses to date here. We will continue to update this document as we receive new advice from governments, so that our members have access to the most up-to-date government advice.
How Can Myotherapists Help MA Working for our Profession?
Today, we requested members to provide us with evidence of clinical effectiveness of teleconsultations for myotherapy [link]. Any information you can provide will help us advocate for private health insurers to provide rebates for myotherapy teleconsultations during Covid-19.
If you are frustrated with the mixed messages coming from government for healthcare professionals, every Australian has the right to contact their local member of parliament. You can find your local member of parliament here: Federal, ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA. Should you wish to do this, we can provide you with our latest update to forward to them.
Calling for Clarity – Essential Healthcare
What is MA Doing to Help our Members?
The short answer is that MA is doing everything we can to help our members. Our impression is that government is overwhelmed and that is why they are giving mixed messages.
To help our members, MA:
- is in daily communication with the CEOs of other allied health professional associations, to share the advice we are all receiving from government and see how we can work together for our members;
- is in regular communication with other relevant organisations, including HICAPS and private health insurers, to assist our members;
- has set-up free webinars for our members to address pertinent issues, such as:
- is in communication with all health departments and ministers and small business ministers and offices to try and clarify government’s response to Covid, as it applies to myotherapists;
- is communicating with various arms of government to propose including myotherapy in the definition of “allied health”, to clarify the situation for myotherapists;
- is advocating for private health insurers to provide rebates for myotherapy teleconsultations;
- is speaking with private health insurers regarding access to on-the-spot claiming;
- has clarified how MA member insurance applies in the current environment, including teleconsultations – details here [link];
- has clarified with private health insurers how training requirements, such as first aid and dry needling, apply in the current environment – details here;
- is investigating payment options to assist members experiencing financial hardship;
- established a Covid FAQ page [link], to answer your frequently asked questions (note this FAQ is currently being updated); and
- dealing with a myriad of issues as they arise.
Thank you again for your patience during this difficult time. We will continue to update you as new information becomes available and we have had the opportunity to fact-check it.
We remind you that we have a small staff, who are doing everything they can to respond to your queries as soon as possible. Please be patient and respectful with them as they continue to work hard for you.
Chief Executive Officer