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Optometry has not been included as part of a proposal to introduce a co-payment under Medicare, CEO Genevieve Quilty has confirmed.

The Australian media speculated in late December on recommendations that the Coalition Government’s Commission of Audit, set up by Tony Abbott to better target government services, may make in relation to health.

Speculation included a proposal to introduce a $5 co-payment by patients seeing doctors who bulk-bill under Medicare.

Optometrists Association CEO Genevieve Quilty said discussion in the media surrounding co-payment came about as the result of the Australian Centre for Health Research’s submission to the commission.

She said Optometrists Association was not aware of any discussion of this proposal being imposed on optometrists. ‘The proposal from the Australian Centre for Health Research does not mention optometry,’ she said.

Health Minister Peter Dutton was quick to end the speculation in a statement issued on 29 December.

He said the Coalition Government was committed to recovering money that the previous Labor Government spent on ‘creating huge health bureaucracies’ and instead to deliver and improve front-line services for patients.

‘We won’t comment on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend,’ Mr Dutton said.

He said the commission’s work was still being compiled and the government would consider any recommendations and respond when the work was completed.

In a separate but related Medicare issue, Optometrists Association has been holding ongoing discussions with the government in a bid to remove the Medicare fee cap restricting the fee that optometrists can charge for their services.

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