Optometry NSW/ACT News: 21 July 2014

Association Membership Now Due

The Association would like to extend an invitation to members to renew their membership of Optometry Australia NSW/ACT. Your membership is vital to the efforts of the association to guarantee the future of optometry and the eye health of the Australian community. To be able to argue that the Association represents all optometrists has been perhaps the its greatest strength when defending or advancing the profession. The more members we have, the stronger the profession. We need you!

To rejoin, simply call the office on (02) 9712 2199 and we can arrange it over the phone. And of course, if there are any matters we can assist with, please don’t hesitate to call.

Paper-Based Claims for Medicare - Item Downgradable Problem

Optometrists making paper-based Medicare claims should be aware that Medicare may no longer automatically downgrade Item 10900 to Item 10917 payments when a patient has been billed elsewhere for an initial consultation in the previous 24 months. Medicare has advised that when a claim is rejected, optometrists making paper-based claims must resubmit a new claim re-signed by the patient for a benefit to be paid.

Optometry Australia has pointed out the illogicality and impracticality of having a patient return to the practice to sign a new assignment form for a benefit of lower value.

Until clarification is received, we suggest that optometrists making paper-based claims check eligibility of the patient for Item 10900 benefits prior to sending off the assignment form.

PDs on a Prescription

There recently has been a long discussion on Ausoptom concerning the inclusion or non-inclusion of the inter-pupillary distance (PD) in a prescription for spectacles. The current Optometry Board of Australia Guidelines on the Prescription of Ocular Appliances, on PDs state: "...minimum requirements for a spectacle prescription include lens powers and prism (e.g. sphere, cylinder, axis and addition as necessary). The inter-pupillary distance may be included."

This makes it clear that including a PD in a prescription for an optical appliance is at the optometrist’s discretion.

There is a catch. If you have measured the PD during the consultation and the patient asks for it you are obliged to supply it. The PD is then part of the patient’s records and you must supply a copy of a patient’s records to the patient on request. PDs do not alter, so once they are in your records you are probably obliged to supply them to the patient on request even if they were not measured at the most recent consultation.

It is the Association’s view that a PD measurement is part of the optical dispensing process and as such is not specified as part of an optical prescription. To minimise the risk of misunderstanding, optometrists might choose to have PDs measured only after frames have been chosen and outside the consulting room.

Many optometrists incorrectly think that providing a patient with a copy of their prescription on request is because of Medicare regulations. The requirement existed before Medicare and stems from common law. In very general terms, there exists an implicit contract between the patient attending an optometrist and the optometrist that the optometrist will examine the patient’s eyes, diagnose any diseases and anomalies and provide a prescription for an appliance when one is required. The optometrist agrees to the contract by taking money for the consultation and the patient by paying for the consultation. The Optometry Board of Australia is reviewing its guidelines. You will have the opportunity to put your views to the Board during the public consultation phase of the review.

VisionCare Frame Display Cases Available

As you are aware VisionCare NSW is no longer administrator of the NSW Spectacles Program. As a result of this situation, VisionCare NSW retains a number of surplus (new) Program frame display cases. VisionCare NSW is offering these cases at no charge to any eyecare professional who may have a need for additional or replacement cases. VisionCare NSW is prepared to make more than one case available to those interested.

There is no charge for the case – however the delivery costs will need to be met by each practice, as VisionCare NSW no longer has an administration budget to meet such costs.

Details of the display cases follows:

  • Black material case with white satin lining in cavities
  • Either 8 or 10 cavity cases available. Majority are 8 cavity units
  • Measurements: 16cm x 48cm x 3cm
  • VisionCare NSW white logo appears on case cover
  • Two button clips secure each case

VisionCare NSW proposes that eyecare professionals who wish to avail themselves of this opportunity will organise a courier pick up from the VisionCare NSW offices in Westfield Eastgardens (Eastern Suburbs) with the recipient to arrange for either a, pre-paid collection or a pay on delivery arrangement with the courier service. VisionCare NSW office location details will be provided at the time you confirm your intention to take up the offer.

If interested in taking up this offer, please contact VisionCare NSW on (02) 9344 4122 prior to 31 July 2014.

Optometry Giving Sight - Great Work for the Community

Read the latest on one of Optometry Giving Sight's rising stars, Niroshan and his role in helping the Sri Lankan government recognise eye care as a crucial department of the country’s health care sector here.

Optometry Giving Sight Seeks Your Support

Optometry Giving Sight is our charity – optometry’s charity. Please support them when you renew your OAA membership shortly. To see the great work that OGS is doing right around the world please click here.

NSW Low Cost Spectacles Scheme Update

The new Low Cost Spectacles Scheme has now launched – and while the Association still holds some reservations about various aspects of it, including remuneration, we are encouraging members to participate if the new model will suit their style of practice. It is important to note that this new model affords members who sign up a very easy exit – 7 days’ notice and you are out of the scheme. So if you do decide to try it, the downside risk is small. We know the new scheme won’t suit all practices – and for some, it will be prudent to wait a while to see how it beds down before deciding whether or not to participate.

The Association is meeting with Vision Australia at least weekly and we will keep members updated as the new program unfolds and we get a greater sense of how it is working.

If you would like to express an interest in the new scheme please email Susie Nelson at Vision Australia.

If you have specific matters you’d like the Association to address, please email Andrew.

Working with Children Check

We continue to receive calls asking if and when optometrists need to register for the WWCC. The answer is:

ALL optometrists MUST obtain a WWCC unless you NEVER work with children in any circumstance. The old exemption where you were okay if you were accompanied by a parent or other adult has been removed.

You need to get the check NOW if you don't already have one. The "phase-in period" relates only to the changeover from the old check to the new check. EVERY optometrist needs a current WWCC.

Support staff do not generally need a WWCC unless they work with children in an areas of the practice which is not open and public. For example, your reception staff will not need the WWCC if they only interact with children in the public reception area. However, if you have a vision therapist who works with children in a consulting room, they WILL need the WWCC.

The WWCC must be completed online, printed out and taken to your local RMS office.