Higher Cataract Rebate A Mirage, Australia

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that a ‘new schedule fee (rebate)’ for complex cataract surgery announced by the Health Minister was a mirage and that most Australians in need of cataract surgery will still be worse off as a result of the original Budget cut.

Dr Pesce said the new rebate of $850.75 for a complex cataract extraction of 40 minutes or more is an increase of just $19.15 (2.3 per cent) for existing item 42702, and will apply to a small minority of procedures.

“The great majority of cataract procedures are still subject to the harsh Budget cut,” Dr Pesce said.

“From 1 November, most Australians in need of cataract surgery will get only half the rebate that is available today for this sight-saving operation.

“The recent AMA survey of ophthalmologists showed that around 60 per cent of cataract procedures take between 21 and 39 minutes.

“Fewer than 12 per cent take more than 40 minutes, according to the survey.

“People seeking the surgery, many of them elderly, will be forced to pay more.

“The Government must realise that all cataract surgery is complex and that the doctors provide high-quality specialist care to every patient according to their individual needs and condition.

“The priority is the best quality outcome for the patient, not clock watching.

“The original rebate must be restored,” Dr Pesce said.

Australian Medical Association