27 November 2009
The Health Minister’s latest manoeuvre on Medicare rebates for cataract surgery – to yet again lift them by a few measly dollars – shows her absolute lack of concern for patients.
Shadow Minister Peter Dutton described it as a sick joke.
“The Health Minister is playing politics with people’s health,” he said after the Government announced late on Thursday that it would increase the rebate from $340 to $368.
Mr Dutton said the Coalition had received reports that hospitals had turned away patients who were booked in for cataract surgery yesterday and of ophthalmologists who were refusing to operate on patients because of the Government’s irresponsible refusal to fix the rebate mess it has created.
“The Prime Minister must step in to end this madness,” Mr Dutton said.
“Clearly Nicola Roxon is out of her depth and does not care one iota how much she hurts patients needing cataract surgery.”
“These are our Mums and Dads, these are our grandparents that this Government is arrogantly and uncaringly denying this critical treatment to.”
“The simple fact is that pensioners and seniors are having to cancel cataract surgery because they can no longer afford it.”
“This Government implemented harsh cuts to the rebates that have imposed hundreds of dollars in extra costs to patients who simply don’t have that money – so they are foregoing this life-changing surgery.”
“The Rudd Government has done this because it says “greedy doctors” are being paid too much.”
“A Government making patients pay more because it has a grievance with doctors is an indefensible position,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton said the Government must restore the Medicare rebate to its pre-November 1 level of $623.
He said it should then sit down with eye surgeons and discuss its grievances and seek negotiated outcomes – something it had failed to do at any stage before announcing the massive rebate reductions.
The Coalition has provided the Rudd Government with several legislative measures to easily restore the rebate, but it has refused to even consider them.
Mr Dutton warned the Government the Coalition would continue to disallow its continued changes to the rebates, until the Government realised its error and rectified it.
Media Contact – John Wiseman – 0429 983 618