Andrew Harris and Health Minister Peter Dutton
Optometry Australia is maintaining advocacy to minimise the negative impacts of Federal Budget cuts to optometry on patient access to eye care and on the profession.
CEO Genevieve Quilty and president Andrew Harris met with Health Minister Peter Dutton in June.
‘Andrew Harris and I have talked in detail with Mr Dutton about the expected impact of Federal Budget measures on the profession and on primary eye-care access,’ Ms Quilty said.
‘We’ve made clear our thanks for the removal of the fee cap, and support of increased frequency of access to comprehensive eye examinations for all Australians over 65 years, but also our worry about the impact of other changes.
‘We stressed our concerns about the impact of less frequent access to 10900s for those aged under 65 years, particularly as strong evidence supports the need for regular examinations for those aged 40 years and older,’ she said.
‘We have made a formal proposal to the government, seeking an amendment to the changes announced to ensure regular access to preventative eye care aligned with best evidence.’
Ms Quilty said Mr Dutton made it clear that the government would not reverse the decision to reduce the Medicare rebate from 85 to 80 per cent.
Optometry Australia continues to stress the impact this decision will have on access to services in socially disadvantaged areas and access for vulnerable population groups.
It is preparing a detailed proposal to support continued service provision in socially disadvantaged areas where the majority of the community would be unable to afford out-of-pocket expenses.
‘This does not mean we will give up the fight to have the rebate returned to 85 per cent,’ Ms Quilty said.
She and Mr Harris have met with Liberal Party backbencher Dr Andrew Southcott and Greens Senator Dr Richard Di Natale.
They also met with Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson’s advisors to work through in detail the implications of these measures on primary eye-care services for veterans.
The Australian Medical Association and the Consumer Health Forum have met with Optometry Australia to ensure support for the organisation’s position, Ms Quilty said.
‘We have sought the support of key stakeholders in our sector, and appreciate their assistance in advocating for amendments to the reforms proposed by the government, to help ensure all Australians have the eye care access they need.
‘Alongside this, we continue talks with those involved in implementing the Federal Budget measures at the Department of Health and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It is important that they understand our position, but also that we work to minimise confusion and stress for optometrists associated with the processes necessary to implement these changes,’ she said.