22 September 2009
An AMA survey which showed that between 20,000 and 50,000 extra people might be forced to seek cataract surgery in public hospitals was all the more reason for the Rudd Government to drop its harsh proposal to halve Medicare rebates for cataract treatment.
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said the public hospital system, already stretched to its limits, could not cope with an influx of that magnitude.
The Rudd Government appears determined to make people, mostly senior Australians, pay hundreds of dollars more for cataract surgery as it seeks Budget savings to pay for its reckless spending.
Mr Dutton called on Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon to abandon the Budget cuts to Medicare rebates which were causing great anxiety for those who need cataract surgery.
“The AMA survey refutes the Rudd Government’s basis for slashing these rebates,” Mr Dutton said.
“And the worrying issue that emerges is that a significant number of ophthalmologists say they will no longer be able to afford to treat public patients.”
“That means that more people will have to wait longer or even miss out on treatment that restores their eyesight enabling them to remain independent and enjoy a good quality of life.”
He said Nicola Roxon and Kevin Rudd needed to urgently re-think the impact their Budget cuts would have both on individuals and the health system as a whole.
If the Government went ahead, the Coalition with the support of Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Senator Steve Fielding has announced that it will disallow regulations to implement the Medicare rebate changes when they were presented to Parliament.