Macular Disease Foundation Australia logo

    Low vision aids subsidy needed

    Foundation calls for federal leadership on subsidy.

    Image of a senior man reading a book with a magnifier

    Equity needed in subsidy scheme

    The Macular Degeneration Foundation is advocating to Government to provide a national subsidy scheme for concession holders for low vision aids and technology for people with low vision. For concession holders needing a simple magnifier, every state has a different system, different subsidies (if any) and different delivery systems. Whereas for those needing a hearing aid, the government provides a uniform, clear and simple rebate system across the country.

    The campaign clearly requests leadership at the federal level to deliver an appropriate, accessible and equitable subsidy scheme for concession holders to access low vision aids and technology.

    The campaign is also targeting private health insurers to offer fair rebates for vital low vision aids.

    It is a priority for the Foundation to advocate for affordable and accessible low vision aids and technology. Low vision aids and technology can make a real difference to quality of life and independence.

    We won’t give up!

    Prior to the last federal election in 2007 the MD Foundation campaigned on this issue. The Foundation, and many of our clients at our request, wrote to all sitting members of the Federal Parliament requesting that those with low vision have equal access to subsidies for low vision aids and technology. This campaign was undertaken due to the minimal response from government to ongoing efforts to address the matter since 2005.

    In 2007 a national audit of specific low vision aids undertaken by the Foundation demonstrated an inconsistency in the provision of subsidies for concession holders across Australia.

    The Foundation considers that there have been no tangible outcomes, and no action after years of discussions, committees and frameworks. Therefore we have again mounted another campaign on behalf of the MD community.

    A repeat of the state-by-state audit of subsidies for specific low vision aids in August 2010, revealed the ongoing gross differences between the states and a lack of Government funded programs. The Foundation wrote to all major candidates in each electorate for the 2010 election with exactly the same request – the establishment of a balanced, equitable, and appropriate national subsidy scheme for concession holders for low vision aids and technology. In addition, it was requested to include a means tested scheme for non-concession holders.

    In addition the Foundation has approached five major health insurers to lobby for fair rebates for the purchase of low vision aids and technology.

    How can you help?

    If you would like to get involved, you can download a copy of a letter to send to your local Federal MP.

    If you need assistance to forward the letter to your appropriate local MP, then fill in the letter with your details and post the letter to the MD Foundation.

    If you hold private medical insurance, write to your health insurer and request they provide a fair rebate for the purchase of low vision aids and technology.

    You can always call to request a meeting to discuss this issue in person with your local MP or private health insurer.

    Together we can make a difference!

    Where to next?

    The Foundation will continue this campaign by making representation to newly elected relevant ministers to move this matter forward.

    The Foundation will also make representation to major private health insurers to request fair rebates for low vision aids and technology for their clients.

    Posted: 20 August 2010

    More articles like this