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Sunday / June 23.
HomeminewsFederal Budget Increases MBS Rebates by 3.6%

Federal Budget Increases MBS Rebates by 3.6%

In long awaited news, Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) rebates, including for optometry items, will increase by 3.6% from 1 July.

The announcement brings the rebate for items 10910 and 10911 to AU$62.15.

Additionally, in response to the rapidly reducing GP bulk-billing rates across the country, bulk-billing incentives for GPs, for select community groups will be tripled.

Modernising Medicare

Announcing the Federal Budget, the Government committed to modernising Medicare, an announcement welcomed by Optometry Australia (OA). However Skye Cappuccio, Chief Executive Officer of optometry’s peak organisation, cautions that “to meaningfully impact the community’s access to timely eye care, eye health must be front-and-centre in the reforms”.

In a statement released by OA Ms Cappuccio said, “Eye health is beset by the same issues identified by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce that have led to the reforms in the Budget.”

Ms Cappuccio listed these issues as “lack of integrated care; freezing (actually cutting) of Medicare rebates; specialist workforce shortages and maldistribution; over reliance on overstretched public hospitals; poor information systems; and eye health professionals prevented from practising to their full scope”.

to meaningfully impact the community’s access to timely eye care, eye health must be front-and-centre in the reforms

“The long-awaited Medicare reform package provides the opportunity to address many of these problems, but only if it is recognised that patients’ eye health is an integral part of their overall health and if optometry is included in the reforms.”

Few Surprises

Ms Cappuccio said the Federal Budget offered few surprises in the health space, with a $2.2b investment to overhaul and strengthen Medicare and the primary health care system previously announced.

OA highlighted the following relevant inclusions in the overhaul:

  • The introduction of MyMedicare, a voluntary GP patient registration system, linked to an expansion of blended funding models for patients with complex and chronic conditions,
  • A National Scope of Practice Review to support workforces to work at the top of their scope across the country, enabling better patient access to care,
  • Greater investment in the My Health Record system, including to support the digital sharing of pathology and diagnostic imaging information and transition My Health Record to “a data-rich platform”,
  • A greater role for Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in commissioning allied health and nursing services to enable multidisciplinary health care in underserved communities,
  • Supporting the expansion of the primary health care nursing workforce, and
  • Supporting better access to after-hours primary/GP care.

Optometry Australia has called on the Government to:

  • use the National Scope of Practice Review to remove regulatory and funding barriers that prevent optometrists from practising at full scope,
  • include optometrists in multidisciplinary team-based care,
  • ensure that proven collaborative eye care solutions that enhance patient access and reduce public hospital wait times are developed at scale in the next National Health Reform Agreements, and
  • integrate eye health information sharing into the new data rich My Health record system.