1 October 2009
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon is under mounting pressure to reconsider her decision to slash the Medicare rebate for cataract surgery.
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton supported a call today from the Rural Doctors Association for the Federal Government to meet with it and bodies representing ophthalmologists to ensure Australians had access to affordable cataract surgery.
Mr Dutton said today the Rudd Government had taken a decision that would be detrimental to thousands of mostly senior Australians without any consultation.
“Rural doctors have considerable concerns that the Rudd Government’s Medicare rebate cuts will considerably disadvantage rural patients – something the Coalition has consistently warned the Government and Health Minister about since it foreshadowed these rebate cuts in the Budget,” Mr Dutton said.
“Not only is the Rural Doctors Association concerned that patients won’t be able to afford treatment, but it fears that the number of city-based ophthalmologists who travel to rural areas providing treatment will discontinue these services.”
“It’s a concerning state of affairs that the Rudd Government dismisses while preferring to launch attacks on doctors.”
The Rural Doctors call for consultations follows an AMA survey which showed that between 20,000 and 50,000 extra people might be forced to seek cataract surgery in public hospitals, which already cannot cope with the number of people seeking treatment.
“The rebate cut which will force people to pay hundreds of dollars more for a treatment that enables them to continue an active and independent life is mean-spirited and should be withdrawn,” Mr Dutton said.
However, if the Government persists with the rebate cuts; the Coalition, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Senator Steve Fielding have announced that they will move to disallow regulations that give effect to the measure.