In accordance with the theme – Relationships and Results (R&R) – adopted by the Board for 2016, a Stakeholder Seminar was held in Midrand on Monday 15 2016. Representatives from medical schemes, Government Departments, HPCSA, Academic Institutions, amongst others attended.
Following presentations by Patrick Mawila, Faith Chabedi and Chris Eksteen, healthy debate ensued relating to the possibility of including eye care conditions within the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB’s), the advent of therapeutics, optometry as a primary care profession, the dichotomy of the profession (professional vs commercial), opportunities (NHI) and the importance of the role of the SAOA, as a professional association, in engaging medical schemes regarding clinical standards.
On the 24th of February Mr. Harry Rosen represented the SAOA stance on some key issues at the Health Inquiry Hearings.
- The attempts by Ophthalmology to prevent the extension of the scope of practice for optometry to include Therapeutics.
- Specific Preferred Provider arrangements between networks and medical aids which appear to lessen competition in the optometric market and thus to be regarded as contraventions of the existing competition laws. The submission addresses, by example, the issue of the dominance of the networks concerned which forces participation by reluctant practitioners.
- The HPCSA guidelines which outlaw mobile practices without the required approval from the PBODO to operate in specified areas. The SAOA position places emphasis on the required standards of practice which includes standards pertaining to procedures, equipment referrals and follow through.
- Advertising, touting and canvassing. The SAOA supports the principle of responsible communication by practitioners to facilitate informed choices by members of the public. Such communication includes details pertaining to location, contact details, services rendered as well as fees and pricing. The SAOA, however, is strongly opposed to vague messages such % discounts, ‘prices ranging from’ and ‘terms and conditions apply’.
- The SAOA has adopted the official position to oppose submissions in favour of deregulation of those rules or regulations which pertain to ownership of practices as well as dispensing of optometric materials. This position has been adopted on the basis of obviating any risk of commercial influence over professional discretion.
The Inquiry has been instituted by the Competition Commission to evaluate the nature of price determination, the extent of competition between different categories of providers and funders, bargaining power between provides and funders, regulatory impact and consumer accessibility and assessment of information about healthcare providers and how they exercise choice, amongst others.