Friday, 20 July 2012
All Hot and Bothered Over Medical Heating and Cooling
Today Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent has used question time to query the Minister for Disabilities on the implementation of the medical heating and cooling subsidy scheme.
“This government introduced the medical heating and cooling rebate with much fanfare, but due to its sloppy implementation, what should have been a triumph has instead been an absolute farce,” says Ms Vincent.
“The whole process has been a complete fiasco and people are angry and disappointed.
“We’ve already been through a period of significant processing delays due to bureaucratic bungling of application forms, and now we learn that the forms themselves contain inaccuracies. Given this government is overseeing an astronomical rise in energy costs in South Australia, this is incredibly disappointing.
“The Minister says one thing but his department and the paperwork say another.
“The printed application forms suggest that people outside the ten listed medical conditions also have the opportunity to access the rebate (with medical evidence) however the reality shows this is not true.
“Several constituents have contacted our office saying they’ve have had their application for the rebate declined despite having medically-certified evidence that they have significant need.
“The department has brought about this whole mess through its own incompetence. The incorrect information that was distributed about medical heating and cooling rebate has lead to a huge number of people with disabilities submitting applications that had absolutely no prospects of success.
“It’s absolutely shameful that the Minister has allowed the community to be misled by the phrasing of questions in the application form, giving them hope that they will receive the subsidy, when in fact there’s no chance at all.
“Today in Parliament he has finally admitted that he won’t be expanding the scheme. Yet he fails to acknowledge the ongoing confusion his Department’s application form is creating.
“Implementing schemes based on disability or condition labels, instead of functional need, goes against every modern day principle of providing people with access to services and subsidies that they truly need,” said Ms Vincent.
• The scheme, introduced earlier this year, was intended to help people with disabilities whose negative symptoms were exacerbated by temperature extremes.
• South Australia assesses eligibility based on one of ten exclusive conditions: Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Lymphoedema, Fibromyalgia, Muscular Dystrophy, Tetraplegia, Post Polio Syndrome, Poliomyelitis, Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Motor Neurone Disease.
• The South Australian form has provision for ‘other conditions’ being accepted, when this is not the case – it is a scheme exclusive to ten listed conditions
• Many people have had significant delays in application due to limited staffing for assessment processing.
• Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland all have an application form and system that assesses clients based on two categories of physiological need rather than labelling of conditions or disabilities.