Facts vs. Spin

The Ministers rationalisations are dubious and one might reflect on whether this decision was based on ideology dressed up as economic prudence. Every public comment made thus far by the Minister has been exaggerated, incorrect or unrepresentative. The Minister is receiving poor advice and repeating it in public without checking the facts herself.

Her Spin

Our Response


Can be done faster than 10 years ago due to new technology
False. Nothing in technology has changed since 1997 when the last budget cut was made. The rebate has already been reduced by 60% (in 1985 and 1997) to reflect the productivity gains from improved technology. This represents an 80% cut when adjusted for CPI . A further 50% cut is baseless, precipitous and severe.

At the 2 largest private eye centres in Australia the average time of cataract surgery theatre time were 28 and 31 minutes respectively, not 15 minutes as claimed by the Minister.

The ‘service cost’ of providing this operation is not related to the theatre time but rather the overall infrastructure costs of a modern eye clinic, which increase every year.

Doctors doing too many operations and costing Medicare

The major driver of surgery is a demographic aging boom and an active older population demanding surgery for improved vision quality.

Operation is now ‘simpler’


It requires high skill and is unforgiving of the slightest error in judgement or technique.

Basic competence is achieved after 5 years of specialist surgical training and mastery of the technique takes 10 years of experience. Attempts to make light of this procedure as 'simple' or 'common' are misleading.

It is not a minor or low risk procedure and the price of failure is enormous.

Dispute is about doctor’s fees

Doctor’s fees are not affected.
Patient’s rebate is being reduced leaving patient worse off and more out of pocket.

Pensioners who currently receive 'no gap' surgery will be worst affected.


‘Rich doctors’ smear campaign expected
This is a smokescreen to distract attention from a 50% cut in patient funding using doctors as scapegoats.

The average increase in cataract fees since 1993 has risen by only 1.8% per annum whilst costs of business have soared.

The Health Minister never deducts business overhead costs when quoting supposed "Medicare earnings".
Businesses have expenses which she seems to ignore in her statements.

She cites extreme examples (top 10) which are not representative of the average suburban doctor.

Can you appreciate the waste of taxpayer money in saving $307 on the Rebate cut, yet costing $3500 to the public hospitals if the patient goes public ? That is not good use of taxpayer money.

Why was there no modelling on the likely effects on public hospital waiting lists?


 A 50% cut is not a minor adjustment and has huge social implications. People are upset - what happened to community consultation? And why was there no consultation prior to these cuts?


Why disadvantage 123,000 older patients per year for a saving of 30 Million, when an 11% shift to public care will wipe out all of your proposed savings? That is not very good economics.


Do you appreciate how your changes will create a two-tiered system and disadvantage pensioners and low income patients?

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