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Tuesday, 7 September 1993
Page: 1007

To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shows:

1.Optometry has been covered by Medicare since its inception in 1975, and currently provides eye care to over 2.4 million people each year.

2.Removal of optometric benefits from Medicare will increase Government expenditure on eye care, as people will instead obtain their care from a more expensive source.

3.The cost to the public of eye care will increase, both through the removal of benefits for optometric consultations and the shift to ophthalmologists who generally charge well over the scheduled fee.

4.The visual welfare of the community will suffer as people are discouraged from seeking eye care. Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma, do not produce symptoms until they are in an advanced stage. Any discouragement from seeking regular eye care will increase suffering from these diseases.

5.The removal of benefits for optometric examinations will disadvantage children, as undetected visual disorders will adversely affect their development and school performance.

6.Access to eye care will be reduced, particularly in rural areas, as part-time and visiting optometric practices will no longer be economically viable, and alternate care is not available.

We therefore request that the Parliament take steps to ensure that Medicare continues to be a universal health insurance system and that all eye examinations by optometrists are covered.

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