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28 October 2009
 
The fate of the Medicare rebate for cataract surgery now lies firmly in the hands of the Rudd Government and its failed Health Minister Nicola Roxon.
 
The Senate today disallowed regulations which would have cut the current rebate in half – from more than $600 to just over $300.
 
All crossbench Senators – Independent Nick Xenophon, Family First’s Steve Fielding and The Greens – joined the Coalition in voting down the Rudd Government’s hard-hearted measures that would slug those who can least afford it – Australian seniors.
 
“The message for this governmentis clear - keep the Medicare rebate for cataract treatment at its current level,” Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said after the Senate vote.
 
The Senate today provided the Government with a means to restore the rebate to its former level.
 
It passed a Private Members Bill put forward by Coalition Senator Mathias Cormann that will re-instate the former $626 rebate.
 
“Now it is up to the Government to bring on this Bill andpass it in the House of Representatives and guarantee the rebates for cataract treatment,” Senator Cormann said.
 
Senator Cormann said the Rudd Government could move the Bill – the Health Insurance Amendment (Revival of Table Items) Bill 2009 – to the House this afternoon.
 
“The responsible course ofaction for this Government would be to pass the Bill quickly and remove its threat to impose a zero rebate,” Senator Cormann said.
 
Minister Roxon should come out today and end the uncertainty for patients, and make an announcement as soon as possible that the Government accepts the verdict of the Senate,” he said.
 
Mr Dutton said it was always within the Government’s power to change its mind and remove the threat hanging over the heads of patients suffering cataracts.
 
“It will be on Mr Rudd’s and Ms Roxon’s head if patients are left with no rebate. They have been bloody-minded and refused to negotiate about this since the May Budget,” Mr Dutton said.

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