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24 November 2009

The Rudd Government this afternoon gets its second chance to stop hurting patients needing cataract surgery by ensuring its short-sighted cuts to Medicare rebates are reversed.

It can support amendments to the Health Insurance Act which will guarantee that rebates for cataract surgery are restored to their previous level.

The Senate passed the amendment last night and it will go before the House of Representatives this afternoon.

At stake for mostly senior Australians is whether they will be forced by Rudd Labor to pay hundreds of dollars more for the life-changing cataract surgery.

The Coalition today called on the Prime Minister to intervene to fix up the mess created by Health Minister Nicola Roxon who is intent on punishing the thousands of Australians who need cataract surgery each year.

Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton said this was the second opportunity the Coalition and crossbench Senators had given the Rudd Government to reverse its ill-considered cuts to Medicare rebates.

“The Government appears determined to make elderly patients – those least able to afford extra costs – pay more for treatment.”

“Twice we have given them the means to see commonsense and reverse these savage cuts to rebates. If they turn down this second opportunity, it is on their heads.”

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration Senator Mathias Cormann said the Health Minister Nicola Roxon was displaying “sheer bloody-mindedness” in pursuing “cold-hearted” cuts to the rebates.

 “The Minister knows the Senate will not allow her to effect a 46 per cent cut to the rebates.”

 “She needs to see reason and if she can’t then the Prime Minister must step in.”

 The Senate will move to disallow the Medicare rebate cuts tomorrow.

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[The Health Insurance Amendment (Compliance) Bill 2009 will be returned to the House of Representatives later this afternoon – expected after the MPI]

 Media Contact – John Wiseman – 0429 983 618


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