Government invites evidence submissions to support natural therapy rebates


The government’s Natural Therapies Review has invited submissions of new evidence to support the reinstatement of rebates for complementary treatments such as naturopathy, homeopathy and yoga.

The move represents a second chance for 16 natural therapies that were excluded from health insurance rebates in April 2019 due to lack of evidence.

Following an outcry from the complementary therapies industry over the ban, Federal health minister Greg Hunt ordered the Department of Health to repeat its 2014–15 review of natural therapies.

In response, the health department set up a Natural Therapies Review Expert Advisory Panel,  supported by the NHMRC.

The panel, which includes academics with an interest in integrative medicine, is now inviting scientific evidence to be submitted before 21 February for  a first tranche of therapies:

  • Naturopathy;
  • Pilates;
  • Rolfing;
  • Shiatsu;
  • Tai chi;
  • Western herbalism;
  • Yoga.

In mid 2020 the Panel will seek evidence for a second tranche of therapies, namely:

  • Alexander technique;
  • Aromatherapy;
  • Bowen therapy;
  • Buteyko;
  • Feldenkrais;
  • Homeopathy;
  • Iridology;
  • Kinesiology; and
  • Reflexology.

The review panel says evidence must not duplicate that assessed in the 2014-15 review and must be in the form of scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals, not case reports, expert opinions or book.

Last year health minister Greg Hunt said the new review will provide advice to Government on whether certain natural therapies should be eligible for subsidy through the private health insurance rebate.

“The Government has listened to the views of the sector that there is additional evidence for certain natural therapies since 2014–15 and this updated review will enable formal consideration of this. The Government will invest up to $2 million to support this review,” he said.

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