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19 November 2009.

Nicola Roxon tomorrow will have to produce evidence to substantiate her assertions in relation to her incomprehensible decision to slash Medicare rebates for cataract surgery.‪

The Senate today ordered that she table the information that her office or the Department of Health received or compiled on cataract surgery times in Australia since the Senate rejected her moves to cut the rebates late last month.‪ 

The Health Minister has continually claimed that cataract surgery was now “quick and easy” and that “greedy” doctors were overcharging for the treatment.‪

Cutting the Medicare rebates though has punished patients who now must pay hundreds of dollars more for the life-changing medical procedure or go without and slowly go blind.‪

The Coalition has continually challenged the Minister to produce evidence to back her assertions and she has failed to do so.‪

It appears that finally she has sought to obtain some evidence from health care providers and today the Senate voted to force the Minister to share that information with the Senate and the Australian people.‪

Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing Peter Dutton said the Minister’s decision to punish patients was unravelling.‪

“She failed to do her homework and cannot support her claims,” Mr Dutton said.‪

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration Senator Mathias Cormann said Ms Roxon’s argument had been “shot to pieces”.‪

“First her Department acknowledged during Senate Estimates that they did not collect any data on cataract surgery times in Australia.”‪

“Then they did not dispute the findings of an AMA survey of ophthalmologists which indicated that 70% of cataract treatments took between 25 and 40 minutes – not the 15 to 20 minutes the Minister claimed.”‪

“Now we hear that the Minister is contacting various health stakeholders to get some actual data to back her claims.”‪

Mr Dutton and Senator Cormann said the Minister had misled Australians with her claims that cataract surgery was a “quick and easy” procedure and must now publicly reveal the information to support her claims.

They called on the Prime Minister to step in and sort out the mess his bungling Health Minister was creating where thousands of people may no longer be able to afford cataract treatment.

Media Contacts – John Wiseman – 0429 983 618 or Senator Mathias Cormann 0411 874 546


Posted in: Media Releases
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