In early May, Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) secured a significant win for people with macular disease: both major political parties committed to reject the proposed 69% cut to the MBS rebate for intravitreal injections.
Since 2019, the proposed cut has weighed heavily on the minds of patients and ophthalmologists alike.
Research commissioned by MDFA predicted the cut would have decreased treatment adherence by 22%, leading to an additional 47,000 people experiencing significant visual loss or blindness over the next five years and $2.6 billion in indirect costs to Government.
Australia is among the best countries in the world for the management of macular disease, and the decision by our political leaders is to be celebrated for avoiding substantial hardship for many in the macular disease community.
But MDFA recognises the work is not finished.
We know that of those patients who start receiving intravitreal injection treatment for macular disease, approximately 25% do not persist into their second year of treatment, and by the fifth year about half of patients have stopped treatment and risk significant visual loss or blindness.
MDFA’s own research reveals the major challenges for people receiving intravitreal injections include the ongoing out-of-pocket cost of treatment and obstacles to accessing ophthalmology services, including distance to travel and the availability of private or public transport to attend their clinic appointments.
MDFA is now seeking to address these challenges by working with Federal, State and Territory Governments, the ophthalmology and optometry communities and other stakeholders, to enhance financial informed consent for patients receiving private care, to increase availability of intravitreal injections in the public sector, and to address service maldistribution across Australia.
We know the tragic consequences of treatment discontinuation.
By striving to address the underlying hurdles patients face, we anticipate fewer people with macular disease will lose significant vision or become blind, fewer will need to access medical and long-term care services, and more people will continue to live productive and fulfilling lives.
Posted: 7 July 2022