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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 514


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Is the management committee of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia composed mainly of medical practitioners.

(2)   Does the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia pay a fund benefit of$8.25 to the patients of medical practitioners for the testing of eyes and the supply of spectacles.

(3)   Does the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia refuse to pay a benefit of any kind to the patients of optometrists for what are essentially the same services; if so, is this situation fair to the patients of optometrists who pay, the same contributions to the Fund as the patients of medical practitioners.

(4)   If the Minister considers the situation is unfair to the patients of optometrists, will he take acion to remove this discrimination.


Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) The Acting Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   No. The governing body (Council) of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited consists of 24 persons, made up of 12 medical practitioners and 12 contributors' representatives.

(2)   The Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited pays fund benefits for consultations where spectacles are prescribed on the same basis as for other consultations by medical practitioners. The amount of$8.25 represents $4.25 fund benefit in respect of the initial referred consultation with a specialist and $4.00 in respect of the supply of the spectacles.

(3)   and (4) The Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited does not provide ancillary benefits for eye testing and the supply of spectacles when carried out by optometrists. In this respect, the Government policy, is not to interfere unduly in such matters particularly as no Commonwealth benefit component is involved. In accordance with this policy, the terms and conditions for payment of such ancillary benefits are mainly matters for the management committee of the organisation to determine.







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