darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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November 2, 2009

Cataract patients across Gippsland are still facing higher costs under plans by the Rudd Government to cut the Medicare rebate for cataract surgery.

The Rudd Government had introduced regulations before Parliament to halve the Medicare rebate for ‘simple’ cataract surgery from $623 to $312.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the Coalition sought to block the changes in the Senate last week. The Health Minister then raised the rebate by $28 to $340.

Mr Chester said many patients may defer surgery due to the increased cost, claiming the changes would have a major effect on the health and financial well-being of many older residents across Gippsland.

“In Gippsland we have a high proportion of pensioners who find it difficult enough to live week by week,” Mr Chester said.

“The additional $280 might be enough for people needing cataract surgery to put off the procedure all together.”

Mr Chester said the Minister has two weeks before the next sitting of Parliament to reconsider her position and restore rebates to their original levels.

“It’s important that people from regional communities have affordable access to surgical procedures that allow them to maintain an independent lifestyle,” Mr Chester said.

“I call on the Minister to think again before implementing changes that will be financially detrimental to cataract patients in Gippsland.”

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