Tasmanian concern on IVF capping

The Government is considering placing a cap on the number of Medicare-funded IVF treatments to a total of three for women over 42 and three a year for women under that age.
Nanjing Night Net

Dr Watkins said yesterday that the proposal was placing more stress on women and that stress could further reduce the chances of success.

It was also financially unsound and not good medical management, he said.

Launceston IVF clinic chief Mark Bowman agreed and estimated that the cuts would save the Federal Government about $7 million a year.

He questioned whether Health Minister Tony Abbott was trying to impose his personal negative views on in-vitro fertilisation.

“Seven million in a Federal Health budget of $20 billion is nothing, so you question how much is personal and how much is political,” Dr Bowman said.

Yet the financial and mental strain on women would be huge, he said.

Couples seeking IVF treatment end up out-of-pocket by about $2000 after claiming existing benefits. The bill would be between $8000 and $9000 if they were forced to pay for the whole process, Dr Bowman said.

Tasmanian IVF treated about 400 cycles a year and the Sydney IVF- backed Launceston Clinic another 100, which equated to about 300 patients, he said.

“Some women go back several times,” he said.

“The average age of patients is a little over 35 years but about 20 per cent of patients are over 40 years old.”

The Government proposal would cap treatments for younger women to three a year but limit the number of publicly funded treatments for women over 42 to just three.

Dr Watkins fears a return to the “bad old days” if the Government proposal is pushed through, where practitioners and patients tried to farm as many eggs from women as possible and intentionally implanted for multiple births.

“Women can get very sick from over-stimulating their ovaries,” he said.

“We have worked hard to get to the stage where we put only one embryo back each month so that the multiple pregnancy rate is now only 10 per cent and likely to get lower compared to 26 to 30 per cent a few years ago.”

Dr Watkins said that in purely economic terms, that saved money.

“Twins and triplets are an additional cost to the community,” he said.

The most worrying part of the federal proposal was the chopping back of younger women’s access to IVF treatments to three a year.

“They (the women) will come back if the three tries a year don’t produce a baby and each time the cost is higher because you need more cycles to achieve less pregnancies,” he said.

The moral question of what age at which a woman should still be supported in attempting pregnancy should not be made by government or the community, Dr Watkins said. It was a question for doctors and their patients, he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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