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Thursday / July 18.
HomeminewsOA Comments on Medicare

OA Comments on Medicare

Bulk billing rates for optoetry services have reduced by just 3 per cent since Medicare changes were implemented almost one year ago, according to Genevieve Quilty, CEO of Optometry Australia.

On 1 January 2015 the cap on fees optometrists can charge under Medicare was removed and Medicare rebates for optometry services were reduced. Additionally, changes were made to rebates available for initial comprehensive examinations.

Ms. Quilty said patients were “still accessing optometric care but at a slightly lower rate than previously” and Optometry Australia was hopeful it’s awareness campaign would continue to remind patients to access regular preventative eye health care.

“Since 2012, successive federal governments have been reducing the patient rebate for optometry services through the freezing of Medicare rebates with no likely commencement of indexation until 2020,” said Ms. Quilty. “In early 2015 the Government further reduced patient rebates with the imposition of a 5 per cent cut in all patient rebates. Despite these changes, bulk billing rates have only reduced by 3 per cent since private billing was permitted on 1 January 2015. (97.3 per cent in December 2014 to 93.8 per cent in June 2016.)

She said OA was carefully monitoring this reduction in access to clinical care. “OA has strongly pointed out to government that the rebate freeze is not sustainable over such an extended period of time (2012–2020) nor is the 5 per cent rebate cut in 2015. Regular optometric examinations are essential to identify early symptoms of eye disease and vision disorders. Government policy should be making it easier to seek optometric care, not harder.”