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    Pastor Ron Clarke with his Order of Australia medal

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    Speaking up to ensure access to sight-saving treatment

    For many Australians living with macular disease, losing access to treatment means losing their sight.

    Meet Pastor Ron Clarke OAM, a member of our community from Queensland. Pastor Ron has lived with wet (neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for more than a decade, but monthly anti-VEGF eye injections have saved his sight.

    If the Australian Government accepts a proposal to cut the Medicare rebate for sight-saving eye injections, then Pastor Ron could go blind.

    That’s why MDFA has met with the Health Minister, Greg Hunt MP, to call for affordable treatment on behalf of the macular disease community.

    But our valued advocacy work would not be possible without the generous support of people like you.

    A half century of service

    Pastor Ron has been a minister for almost 50 years. In 2004, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his ministry, and for helping seniors with their computer skills.

    In 2005, he was nominated for the Senior Australian of the Year Award.

    Despite officially retiring in 2015, Pastor Ron maintains a global online ministry with 3,000 subscribers. But he would not be able to continue preaching if he could not afford his sight-saving injections.

    That’s why Pastor Ron is concerned by a proposal to cut Medicare rebates for eye injections by 69 per cent. If the Government approves this cut, Pastor Ron would no longer be able to afford this crucial treatment, and he would go blind.

    I’d be in big trouble. I don’t know how I’d manage.

    “My ministry and activity on the internet depend on my sight. it’s my life. If I lose that, I may as well give up and move into a residential nursing home,” Pastor Ron said.

    While eye injections can preserve the vision of people like Pastor Ron who live with wet AMD, there is still no treatment of early and intermediate AMD, or late-stage dry (atrophic) AMD. Over the past decade, with the support of our generous donor community, we’ve invested $5.1 million in world leading Australian researchers who aim to change that.

    Will you consider supporting this vital research that gives hope to people living with macular disease?

    The strong voice of the macular disease community

    If the Government cuts the Medicare rebate for eye injections, Pastor Ron would no longer be able to afford treatment and he could become legally blind. And Pastor Ron wouldn’t be alone.

    Analysis commissioned by MDFA shows an additional 47,0000 Australians will develop severe vision loss or blindness if the Government approves the proposed cut.

    This would be a direct result of people giving up the treatment due to the burden of extra out-of-pocket costs.

    Although Medicare covers some of the costs for eye injections, out-of-pocket treatment costs currently average just under $2,000 a year. The proposed cut would double that cost. And it would mean that this sight-saving treatment would be out of financial reach for thousands of Australians like Pastor Ron.

    It’s important to note that the Government hasn’t yet approved the rebate cut, and is still considering the proposals. That’s why we met with Minister Hunt in June, to advocate for affordable treatment on behalf of the macular disease community.

    Minister Hunt has invited us to join his Ophthalmology Implementation Liaison Group, to ensure that the voice of the macular disease community will be heard when the Government decides on this issue. We will ensure that your concerns, and your fears, are shared within this forum.

    The value of advocacy

    In a survey this year, 100 per cent of you told us you value our advocacy work, representing the interests of the macular disease community. Over the past three years, we have made 286 submissions to Government to advocate on behalf of every Australian living with macular disease.

    However, we couldn’t be the strong voice of the macular disease community without the generous support of people like you.

    Thank you for your generous support. And remember, if you or a loved one ever need information, advice or just a friendly chat, please call our National Helpline on 1800 111 709.

    It’s important to note that the Government hasn’t yet approved the rebate cut, and is still considering the proposals. That’s why we met with Minister Hunt in June, to advocate for affordable treatment on behalf of the macular disease community.

    Minister Hunt has invited us to join his Ophthalmology Implementation Liaison Group, to ensure that the voice of the macular disease community will be heard when the Government decides on this issue. We will ensure that your concerns, and your fears, are shared within this forum.

    Thank you for your donation

    Thank you for your generous support. And remember, if you or a loved one ever need information, advice or just a friendly chat, please call our National Helpline on 1800 111 709.

    National Helpline

    1800 111 709

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