Optometry Australia (OA) is satisfied with recommendations included in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review, but will campaign for additional amendments before final proposals are lodged with the government.
The MBS Review Taskforce – which is currently examining 5,700 MBS its across the entire health sector – has published 14 optometry-related recommendations after reviewing 32 MBS its relating to the sector.
Under the proposals, the frequency of comprehensive eye exams for patients aged between 50-64 would increase from every three years to every two years, computerised perimetry (MBS its 10940 and 10941) could be performed ‘on behalf of’ optometrists, and MBS its 10912 and 10913 (other comprehensive consultations) would be amalgamated, with the removal of the ‘same practice’ restriction.
The recommendations also include the creation of a new MBS it allowing a brief consultation to be co-claimed with a computerised perimetry procedure. The new it could only be claimed in situations involving either the diagnosis or monitoring of glaucoma.
OA general manager of member services and optometry advancement Ms Skye Cappuccio said although the review was positive – and included several recommendations OA advocated for – the organisation would continue to push for additional amendments.
She believed one unaddressed issue related to MBS it 10905 – which supports a comprehensive consultation for patients referred by another optometrist. According to OA, the it should also include patients referred by a medical practitioner.
“Particularly given patients are often referred by a GP that are not otherwise eligible for a rebate for the comprehensive consultation they require,” she said.
“We also think it’s a priority to rove unnecessary and outdated restrictions on the billing of some its alongside other its.”
Cappuccio said the amendments were necessary to ensure the schedule was sustainable, up-to-date and allowed patients the best possible access to eyecare.
“We do believe further amendments are needed to fully modernise the optometry schedule and we will be petitioning for these before the MBS Taskforce tables its final recommendations to the Minister for Health and the Government, for endorsement and implementation,” she said.
The MBS taskforce’s Optometry Services Clinical Committee convened in October 2018 before tabling its recommendations in December 2018. The recommendations have now been released for stakeholder input.OA will meet with representatives of the MBS Taskforce in March, and will compile a comprehensive written submission in April.
In the 2017-18 financial year, the 32 optometric MBS its accounted for approximately 9.4 million services and $438 million in benefits. During the past five years, service volumes for these its have grown by 4.6% and total cost of benefits paid has increased by 3.6%.