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CEO Genevieve Quilty (L) and president Kate Gifford (R) with the Shadow Health Minister Catherine King
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By Christopher Poulter
Policy and advocacy advisor

 

Optometry Australia president Kate Gifford and CEO Genevieve Quilty met with the Shadow Health Minister Catherine King in Canberra. Discussions included the current review of the national registration scheme, optometric workforce, Medicare and the current MBS review, and Optometry Australia’s petition, which will be tabled in parliament in October. With a federal election not too far away, the meeting was an important step in ensuring optometry is front of mind as the Labor Party begins to craft its health election platform.

 

Petition call

As we enter the back half of the signature-collecting phase, Optometry Australia members across the country continue to support and drive the ‘Stop the cuts’ petition in their practices.

There is still plenty of time to get involved. If you have not yet done so, download the petition and accompanying practice poster from our website.

 

Snowball review

On the back of strong advocacy from Optometry Australia, a decision by health ministers on whether the nine low-regulatory boards will be amalgamated has been delayed until later in the year.

Ministers were due to convene in mid-August to consider the recommendations from the Snowball review but in response to the collective concerns of peak professional bodies including Optometry Australia, ministers have been recommended to delay their deliberation on reform of the national board structure.

 

MBS review

The government’s review of the MBS continues to gain momentum with Optometry Australia putting forward nominations to form part of an expert working group to review the Optometric MBS items.

Five optometrists have been recommended by Optometry Australia in response to the review panel’s call to nominate expert clinicians. Official announcements on the working group membership are expected later in the year.

As part of the MBS review, the government will undertake an assessment of existing compliance measures with a view to tightening perceived over-servicing of patients. We are exploring suitable ways to strengthen compliance of the OMBS and will provide these views to the government.

 

Chronic disease

Following the Standing Committee on Health’s consultation into chronic disease prevention and management in primary care, in which Optometry Australia provided a penetrating submission, the Department of Health released its own discussion paper on chronic disease, shaped by a committee headed by Dr Steve Hambleton.

The discussion paper canvasses options for reforming payment mechanisms in chronic disease management. As part of the consultation process, Optometry Australia attended a face-to-face briefing and provided written submission in response to the discussion paper.

 

Regulatory Group

The annual meeting of the Optometry Board of Australia’s regulatory reference group was held in Melbourne. Optometry Australia was represented by president Kate Gifford and CEO Genevieve Quilty.

The OBA provided an update on recent activities and various topics were discussed to help guide the OBA’s future activities, including CPD accreditation, clinical placements, scope of practice, workforce and optometric practice in the electronic area.

 

MBS item use guide

Optometry Australia has updated the OMBS billing guide, which is now titled the ‘MBS Item Use Guide’. The updated members-only guide, which should be used in conjunction with the item descriptors and explanatory notes within the OMBS itself, reflects the changes to the OMBS that came into effect on 1 January 2015.

Members can locate the guide on our website.

Further updates will be available over the next month for the five new MBS items that commence on 1 September 2015.

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