A Quick Summary of 19aa & 19ab

We have written a number of blogs individually about 19aa & 19ab, but recently when I was running training for a new team member I thought- we need a quick reference summary!


Here it is- a short summary of the two primary Medicare restrictions for General Practitioners!


19aa – The 3GA Training programs

19AA requires any Non-Vocationally Registered Australia Permanent Resident or Citizen to be registered on an approved 3GA program prior to commencing work to be able to gain access to Medicare benefits.


This restricts both people born here in Australia and those who have become Australians.


Once you sit your fellowship exams and are recognized as a specialist doctor, this restriction no longer applies.

The current programs are:

  • Rural Locum Relief Program (RLRP)
  • Special Approved Placements Program (SAPP)
  • ACRRM Independent Pathway
  • Australian General Practice Training (AGPT)
  • After Hours Medical Deputising (AMDS)
  • Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS)
  • More Doctors for Rural Australia (MDRAP)
  • Practice Experience Program (PEP)


The department are in the process of shutting down both SAPP and RLRP however as of this date (11/02/2019) there is no end date.


As of this date, we are awaiting written confirmation from Department of Health on an application process for MDRAP and any restrictions for practices for both PEP & MDRAP (we know they require the clinic to be a MMM2 – 7).


19ab and District of Workforce Shortage (DWS)

If you’ve completed your medical degree outside of Australia or New Zealand OR you weren’t an Australian Citizen or permanent resident prior to the commencement of your degree in Australia then to be able to have your patients collect a rebate from Medicare (or for you to bulk bill), you need to work in an area that has been defined by the Department of Health as a “District of Workforce Shortage” (DWS).


Note: You can work as a fee billing doctor where patients cannot collect a rebate from Medicare. Please know that this is very different from “Privately” billing, where patients pay a gap but still get a rebate back from Medicare.


This is for a period of 10 years although if you work in a more rural area, it will decrease based on the scaling on the DoctorConnect website.

There are a number of exemptions from DWS, including

  • Spousal
  • Replacement
  • After Hours
  • Locum
  • Aboriginal Medical Services


Keeping in mind that if you are a permanent resident Non-VR, then you will need to satisfy the 19aa requirement before you can apply for a 19ab exemption.


Does this help?

We hope this is a good and simple summary of these two bits of legislation. If you have any questions, please contact our team!

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