Australia's Leading Ophthalmic Magazine Since 1975

     Free Sign Up     

Australia's Leading Ophthalmic Magazine Since 1975

     Free Sign Up     
News

‘Conservative’ $11.5m sought for optometry in 2019 Budget

13/02/2019By Myles Hume
Share:
The government should reinstate biennial Medicare rebates for initial examinations for middle-aged patients, Optometry Australia (OA) has declared in its 2019 Federal Budget submission.

Ahead of the April 2 federal budget announcement, OA has lodged its submission titled Sustainability for optometry and primary eye health care, which also calls for government assistance to expand the Visiting Optometrist Scheme (VOS) and fund research into new models of care.

“With a prudent and relatively conservative investment, the government can generate a positive – and almost immediate – impact on eye health for Australians, while reducing vision impairment,” OA CEO Ms Lyn Brodie said.

Spearheading OA’s budget proposal is a $9 million request to reinstate biennial Medicare rebates for comprehensive initial examinations for Australians aged between 45 and 64. A scheme that initially covered these patients was scrapped in 2015, and changed to every three years for asymptomatic patients under the age of 65.

However, after participating in an analysis of the Optometrical Services Schedule as part of the ongoing Medicare Benefits Schedule Review, OA wants the government to re-allocate funding to increase the frequency of eye exams among middle-aged patients.



“With a prudent and relatively conservative investment, the government can generate a positive – and almost immediate – impact on eye health for Australians, while reducing vision impairment.”
OA CEO Lyn Brodie

“There is no doubt that denying asymptomatic patients a Medicare rebate for regular two-yearly eye health examinations puts them at risk of preventable vision loss or blindness,” the OA submission stated.

“As undetected eye disease is relatively common in general populations, particularly in middle-aged and older people, regular eye examinations substantially reduce the incidence of visual impairment and blindness.”

OA has also sought $1.06 million to expand the VOS, an initiative established in 1975 to support outreach services to communities that don’t have access to primary eye care. The initiative was expanded in 2009-10 to provide increased service to Indigenous populations.

According to OA, there has been a heavier reliance on VOS-supported eye examinations each year, and the funding pool needed to grow to match that. It is anticipated funding will need to increase to an additional $4.7 million annually by 2023-2024.

Lastly, in a bid to future-proof the sector, OA’s submission requested a one-off $1.5 million investment to fund two applied research projects to pilot innovative models of care.

Carl Zeiss
advertisement

Due to technological advances, the submission highlighted optometry services would soon go further than in-practice visits.

“This includes virtual consultations and digital health monitoring via wearables. Increased collaboration with other clinicians is expected to be common and care models will be more diverse,” the submission stated.

“It is likely that the traditional retail arm of many optometry practices will no longer exist. The demand for purchasing prescription glasses will virtually disappear as a result of both an expanding digital marketplace and innovative clinical methods for addressing refractive error.”

 

More reading:

Expanded scope of practice highlights Optometry 2040 report

 

GLAUKOS
advertisement





Designs for Vision
advertisement
Editor's Suggestion
Hot Stories

AFT Pharmaceuticals
advertisement


OR
 

Subscribe for Insight in your Inbox

Get Insight with the latest in industry news, trends, new products, services and equipment!