(L-R) Kate Gifford, Health Minister Sussan Ley, Genevieve Quilty
By Rhiannon Riches
Leaders from Optometry Australia met face-to-face with the recently appointed Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, in a full day of political engagement in Canberra on 16 March.
Optometry Australia president Kate Gifford and CEO Genevieve Quilty met with Ms Ley to voice concerns about the impact on patient access to eye care of the reduction in the Medicare patient rebate for optometry services and the extended freeze on Medicare indexation.
Ms Gifford and Ms Quilty sought a reinstatement of the 2014 patient rebate for at least low income and disadvantaged patients. The meeting followed a meeting with ministerial advisers on this issue.
Optometry Australia also wrote to Ms Ley and Prime Minister Tony Abbott following the announcement that the proposed cut to the rebate for GP consultations would not go ahead, congratulating them on this decision and calling on them to extend the reversal to patients needing optometric care.
Ms Gifford and Ms Quilty also met with Greens Senator Dr Richard Di Natale and the National Party’s Dr David Gillespie in Canberra on 16 March.
Discussion focused on the need for government action to ensure all Australians can continue to access the optometric care they need following the Medicare rebate cuts and an extended MBS indexation freeze.
Optometry Australia representatives also maximised the opportunity to talk with federal politicians about the important role of optometry in population health, and the expected detrimental impact of patient rebate reductions. The opportunity came at a dinner of the Parliamentary Friends Group for Eye Health and Vision Care, on the evening of 16 March.
The dinner is an annual event hosted by Vision 2020 Australia. The topic for this year was Leadership Inspiring Change and focused on leaders who are making a difference in their communities.
Australian Indigenous optometrist Shannon Peckham was a speaker at the dinner.
Other speakers included Paralympian and Vision 2020 global ambassador and board member Jessica Gallagher, Vision 2020 Australia policy and advocacy director Brandon Ah Tong, and ophthalmologist Dr Hessom Razavi.
Samuel Koim, senior manager of PNG Eye Care in Papua New Guinea, delivered his message via video.