Funding supporting GPs vaccinating Medicare ineligible patients

The Australian COVID death rate was two-and-a-half times higher in people born overseas compared to people born in Australia, according to the latest ABS statistics.

Engaging with migrant populations regarding vaccination is one easy way to bring down that death rate.

There are still thousands of Medicare ineligible West Australians who are yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccines or who may be due for a booster.

The University of Western Australia’s (UWA) medical centre has had great success within this space – vaccinating hundreds of students during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

International students at UWA, who were Medicare ineligible, were left confused about where to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the start of the rollout.

Practice manager Sharon Almeida said this motivated the doctors at the UWA medical centre who jumped in and vaccinated these students.

“Our doctors believed that it was a public health priority and said bring them in – even if we’re not getting paid for it,” Ms Almeida said.

“The students were confused about where they could receive their vaccine and were really appreciative.

“English is their second language and knowing where to go could be quite confusing.”

The University also assisted students who could not go home without being fully vaccinated.

“They’re students, they’re eating 80c noodles so paying for a vaccine can be quite unaffordable,” Ms Almeida said.

UWA also assisted with vaccinating family members who were Medicare ineligible.

They encouraged students to bring in friends or colleagues who may be Medicare ineligible for their COVID-19 vaccine.

Ms Almeida’s own aunties who were in their 70s and had chronic health conditions received their vaccines at UWA.

WA Primary Health Alliance has since organised for doctors at UWA to receive payments for these services via Medicare ineligible patient funding.

“The doctors were all like ‘what we’re going to get paid now?’ – they didn’t even think about it at the time they just pushed it through,” Ms Almeida said.

Funding is available until 31 December 2022 to the value of the equivalent MBS item number.

On behalf of the Australian Government, WA Primary Health Alliance has to date reimbursed more than 20 practices for more than 800 vaccinations of Medicare ineligible patients.

Immunisation providers can request a 10A report from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), to identify Medicare ineligible patients who might be due or overdue for immunisations.

To request a 10A report, you will need to login to PRODA and access your HPOS account. For more information, refer to Services Australia for detailed steps on accessing this report.

If you would like further support with this important data-driven quality improvement (QI) activity or for further information about this funding, contact Practice Assist and one of WAPHA’s Practice QI Coaches or a member of the vaccination team will be in touch as soon as possible.