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Friday / May 24.
HomeminewsFederal Budget: New MBS Item

Federal Budget: New MBS Item

Optometry Australia (OA) has welcomed what it describes as “the government’s support of our advocacy priorities” in last night’s Federal Budget.

The Albanese government has announced funding to implement the majority of recommendations from a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce Optometry Report, OA CEO Skye Cappuccio said.

She said the changes would include the implementation of a new item from March 2025 for a third visual field test in a 12-month period for patients with a high risk of glaucoma progression.

In a statement on the OA website, Ms Cappuccio said while the budget announcements were “light on detail”, other taskforce recommendations are to amend and update the wording of existing items to reflect contemporary practice and provide clarity, to amalgamate some items for administrative simplicity, and to remove the requirement to bill 10912 and 10913 that a previous examination was billed in the same practice.

The Budget announcements also noted investment to “expand access to optometry services for vulnerable groups in domiciliary (home) settings”.

“It remains unclear exactly what this means,” Ms Cappuccio said.

“Optometry Australia has been actively advocating for an increase in the woefully underfunded domiciliary loading items (items 10931–10933)… to support greater service provision to older and immobile Australians,” she said.

Lost Momentum

The Australian Medical Association, meanwhile, described the budget as a “lost opportunity” to address key health system challenges.

In the broader health space, the health budget includes investment to support 29 further Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, increased investment in mental health care, funding to support the government’s commitment to index Medicare items from 1 July 2024, new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings, and a freeze on PBS co-payments.

Australian Medical Association President Professor Steve Robson said there was little that was new in this year’s budget, and this represented a real loss of momentum towards a more efficient and sustainable health system.

“MyMedicare provides the government with a real platform to reform general practice and improve access and affordability for patients, but the extra funding needed to build on this initiative was missing in tonight’s budget,” Prof Robson said.

“More urgent care clinics is not a long-term strategic solution, and the government keeps looking to fund more of them without proper evaluation of their impact.

“What we need is reform that enables general practice to deliver the primary care that our patients need, not piecemeal announcements and changes that further fragment the system.”

Prof Robson said the AMA was disappointed the federal government, together with the states and territories, had not detailed how they would tackle the blowout in planned surgery waitlists in public hospitals.

Small Business Announcements

In support of small businesses, and of relevance to many optometry practices, the government announced that it would extend the $20,000 instant asset write-off until 30 June 2025 for small businesses with an annual turnover less than $10 million. The asset threshold applies on a per asset basis.

OA also highlighted ed the announcement of AU$3 million to amend the Franchising Code of Conduct in response to the 2023 Schaper Review and support better access to related dispute resolution.