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29 January 2010   Nicola Roxon’s humiliating backdown on cataract surgery rebates showed how ill-conceived her decision to attempt to slash them by 50 per cent was in the first place.
 
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said it also showed how little the Health Minister and Rudd Government as a whole cared about health outcomes.
 
Thousands of elderly Australians who underwent cataract surgery in the last three months have been forced to pay hundreds of dollars more for treatment.
 
Sadly, others who could not afford the additional costs were forced to postpone their treatment.
 
“Hopefully this belligerent Health Minister has come to her senses in time for them to undergo surgery without any harm being done,” Mr Dutton said. “Nicola Roxon didn’t care one bit about the patients, our senior citizens.”
“She was prepared to let them suffer failing eyesight if they could not afford treatment.”
 
“It was more important for Nicola Roxon to blindly follow Labor ideology and engage in petty politics rather than consider the patients’ best interests.”
 
 “The Minister tried to ignore the will of the Parliament by dismissing two motions of disallowance and several attempts to reinstate the original rebates by the Coalition with the support of all crossbench Senators.”
 
“It should not have taken this long for common sense to prevail and it just proves when it comes to Health, the Rudd Government’s priorities are all wrong” Mr Dutton said.
 
Mr Dutton acknowledged the support of Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Senator Steve Fielding which he said was crucial to disallowing the Government’s rebate cuts.
 
“Senators Xenophon and Fielding saw from the outset, as did the Coalition, that this measure was going to harm a great many people – only the Rudd Government couldn’t see that or didn’t care about hurting Australians needing cataract treatment,” Mr Dutton said.
 
The back-flip means that patients will be now be $236 better off for the most common cataract operation (item 42702) compared to the rebate proposed in the Rudd Government’s Budget cuts.

 
Item
 
Medicare Item Descriptors
Original rebate
Rudd Government’s Proposed rebate (disallowed 28/10/09)
Revised rebate
(disallowed 25/11/09)
Revised rebate (registered 7/12/09 & effective from 26/11/09)
Compromised rebate to apply from 1 Feb 2010
 
42698
Lens extraction, excluding surgery performed to correct a refractive error, other than anisometropia that exceeds 3 dioptres and develops after the removal of cataract in the first eye (Anaes.)
$487.69
$244.46
$263.21
$281.96
429.15
 
42701
Artificial lens, insertion of, excluding surgery performed to correct a refractive error, other than anisometropia that exceeds 3 dioptres and develops after the removal of cataract in the first eye (Anaes.)
$271.95
$136.31
$155.06
$173.81
239.33
42702
Lens extraction and insertion of artificial lens, excluding surgery performed to correct a refractive error, other than anisometropia that exceeds 3 dioptres and develops after the removal of cataract in the first eye (Anaes.)
$623.70
$312.64
$340.76
$368.89
548.85

 
Chronology of Rudd Government’s changes to cataract rebates
 
 
 
Media contact – John Wiseman 0429 983 618  
 
Posted in: Media Releases
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