A proposal to cut Medicare rebates for eye injections is the next big issue we’re tackling on behalf of our community.
The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce for Ophthalmology (the Taskforce) has developed a report for the Australian Government. It contains 19 recommendations.
The Final Report on the review of Ophthalmology Medicare Benefits Schedule items was submitted to the federal Health Minister Greg Hunt in December 2020.
We support several of the recommendations. However, the Taskforce also included a recommendation to cut the patient rebate for eye injections by 69 per cent. This is despite MDFA and ophthalmologists voicing strong opposition to any rebate cut.
Eye injections are also called intravitreal injections. They deliver sight-saving treatment for people with a range of macular conditions. These include wet (neovascular) age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO).
It’s important to note that the government hasn’t responded to the Taskforce report.
The rebate cut is still just a recommendation.
We’re concerned about this proposal to cut the eye injection rebate and the impact it would have on patients’ out-of-pocket costs.
We know that many in our community already struggle to afford out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment. For many people, this treatment is ongoing and indefinite. We also know that there are very few public services people can to turn to for an eye injection if they can’t afford private treatment.
That’s why MDFA has been particularly active on this issue throughout the consultation process.
What we’re doing
We called on our community to tell us about how the proposed Medicare rebate cut would impact them. Then we briefed Minister Hunt in late 2019, making sure your voices were heard.
MDFA also commissioned PwC to develop alternate models of care. This would include establishing more regional low-cost clinics to improve treatment access by reducing travel costs and time. We’ve also suggested introducing alternative payment options in private clinics by empowering patients to be better informed on the cost of ongoing treatment.
This fully costed report has been presented to Minister Hunt. It will be submitted to state and territory health ministers later in 2021.
In our report, we have asked that more affordable access to treatment be made available before any changes in MBS rebates are considered so that patients aren’t negatively affected. We realise more affordable access models will take time to develop and implement.
We’ll keep you informed with further updates on how we are making your voices heard.
Posted: 7 March 2021