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An application requesting Medicare Benefits Schedule listing for removal of imbedded corneal foreign bodies for people presenting to an optometrist is expected to be considered in June.

The application will be considered by the Evaluation Sub-Committee of the Australian Government’s Medical Services Advisory Committee on 12 June. This is the penultimate step in the consideration process, prior to a decision by the Medical Services Advisory Committee, which is expected to be made when the committee meets in July.

Optometry Australia (formerly OAA) applied to the Department of Health for a new item by which optometrists may bill for the service, estimating that about 35,000 corneal foreign body removal procedures are performed in Australia by optometrists each year.

Currently, billing occurs under MBS item number 42644 for provision of the service by GPs and ophthalmologists, but there is no specific item to support provision of this service by optometrists. The service is also provided by hospital emergency departments.

A Protocol Advisory Sub-Committee meeting recommended that the fee proposed by Optometry Australia of $90.25 be reduced to $72.15, to align with the fee charged for the same service when performed by GPs and ophthalmologists.

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