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By Helen Carter

New Medicare rebates starting from today are outlined in a stand-alone Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) book members can access and download from the Optometry Australia website.

The Medicare Benefits Schedule Book Optometrical Services Schedule Operating from 1 July 2019 can be accessed here. It is an excerpt that Optometry Australia has created from the MBS.

The Federal Government recently confirmed that from 1 July 2019 a 1.6 percent increase would apply to optometry items on the MBS, ending the long-standing freeze on rebates for these items.

This indexation rate is consistent with that applied to all other MBS items that receive indexation from 1 July.

Optometry items on the MBS have not been indexed since November 2012, with the then government announcing a short-term freeze on Medicare indexation. This initial freeze turned into a long-term freeze with further extensions applied by subsequent governments.

In 2017 the Government announced that a return to indexation of MBS items would be phased in over three years, with indexation of optometry items finally to be reinstated from 1 July 2019.

Optometry Australia’s General Manager of Policy Skye Cappuccio said: ‘During this period, we have consistently advocated for the reinstatement of annual indexation, and we are pleased to see indexation reinstated 12 months earlier than the Government’s 2020 timeframe.

‘We believe the advocacy of Optometry Australia and the fact that we represent over 80 per cent of optometrists, with many joining in our campaigning, gave us the powerful and influential voice to generate this early change.

‘Whilst reinstatement of annual indexation is a positive step, patient rebates for optometry services remain well below the true cost of providing clinical care.

‘As a result, we continue to advocate for a comprehensive reassessment of the scheduled fee for all optometry items on the MBS to help ensure primary eye care services can be provided in a sustainable way and be readily accessed across the community.’


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