28 October 2009
The Coalition, independent Senators and the Greens today all urged the Rudd Government to come to their senses and fix up the mess they’ve created as a result of pressing ahead with their savage cut to Medicare rebates for cataract treatments.
All non-Government Senators told the Senate that the Rudd Government’s unresponsiveness and intransigence had left them with no other choice than to disallow regulations which would have pushed up the cost of cataract surgery for tens of thousands of mainly older Australians.
The parliamentary condemnation follows concern and condemnation from groups representing senior Australians, the Australian Medical Association and ophthalmologists from around Australia.
“Across the board people are now demanding that the Rudd Government withdraw these callous rebate cuts,” Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said today.
“The Rudd Government is playing politics with the sight of tens of thousands of Australians – a fact clearly illustrated by its political stunt in pulling a Bill due for debate in the Senate yesterday – an action designed to force patients into receiving no rebate at all.”
The Government’s belligerent refusal to acceptthat they did not have the support of the Senate for their Medicare rebatecuts, together with its latest stance showed the bloody-minded approach of Health Minister Nicola Roxon, Mr Dutton said.
“There is absolutely no need to reduce the cataract rebate to zero; this is only designed as a political pressure tactic which will only hurt patients.”
Senator Cormann said the Government’s cynical attitude was now apparent to all Australians.
“The Senate today provided the Government with a way out of the mess they have created for themselves,” Senator Cormann said.
“With the support of all non-government Senators, the Senate today passed a Bill which would restore all Medicare rebates for cataract surgery to the levels they stand at today.”
Senator Cormann said the Prime Minister and his failed Health Minister now needed to commit to bring on and pass this Bill in the House of Representatives.
“This heartless Labor Government should now show some decency and ensure that it does not adopt its zero rebate option with which it has frightened elderly Australians.”
Mr Dutton said pressure was mounting on the Government to declare whether it would pass the Senate’s Bill or inflict financial suffering or poor health outcomes on Australians needing cataract surgery.