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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11710

Mr LAMING (Bowman) (16:21): In Australia's world-class eye health and vision care system, ophthalmologists and optometrists have not always had that love affair that the Prime Minister spoke about on the weekend, but increasingly both professions realise that they are indispensable parts of an interlocking system. It was with some concern that optometrists visited Parliament House today with some reservations about cuts to the Medicare rebates and also the five years of Medicare-CPI freezes to come. We should be watching very closely to make sure that four key groups are not affected by these changes. We all recognise how important the sustainability of Medicare is but we need to look particularly at those with chronic and complex eye conditions; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations in general—we need to make sure that get the eye care they need; older Australians; and those in residential and aged care—particularly those who do not speak English as a home language. We need to make sure that these groups have full access to eye care, because we know that 85 per cent of all eye disease is perfectly treatable and avoidable. It is with some concern, then, that optometrists feel that their practices may not be viable and accessible and their services in remote Australia may not be delivered if they cannot get adequate compensation, and with the removal, finally, of the Indigenous processing unit within Human Services there is a great concern that if you have the wrong Medicare number for an Indigenous Australian because they had to be sent a second card, those rebates are not paid. It is a great concern and there is a lot of administrative burden. I seek leave to table the documents from the optometrists.

Leave granted.