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Senator questions why overseas medical grant for vulnerable is halved

Opposition Senate leader Jeanne Atherden today questioned why funds had been cut for a group which provides overseas medical assistance for the “most vulnerable”.

LCCA Medical Overseas, which received $2 million in the 2010-11 financial year, has seen its budget cut to $1 million.

In a Budget debate on the Ministry of Health, Sen Atherden said: “Why when it has been indicated throughout the briefs that the Junior Minister gave that overseas treatment is one of the largest growth areas of the heath care costs and the LCCA is the major fund for overseas costs for people under FutureCare and people with limited means.

“Why are we cutting that area that is not only the fastest growing but people are the most vulnerable?”

Government Senator Cromwell Shakir said the LCCA was for those who are not covered by any insurance.

He said Government would working with the LCCA to help them with their budget, he added: “If additional funds are required we will try and find savings in other areas of the Ministry.”

Sen Atherden asked for clarification on how the King Edward Memorial VII Hospital received its Government grant, whether it was on a monthly or a claims submission basis.

“The reason I would like to have that clarified is we have head a lot of the fact individual doctors and other health providers asking other people to up front or claims have been delayed and I want to know how far behind are they?”

Sen Shakir said the hospital was paid on a monthly basis and given one-twelfth of its budget to provide adequate services. He said this accounts for 40 percent of the hospital revenue, while the remaining 60 precent comes from insurance claims.

Sen Atherden also questioned how the original estimate had to be “revised upwards by 20 percent” from $85.6 million to $100.6 million in 2010-11, yet the next financial year is estimated to spend $84.6 million.

She said it seemed they hadn't even factored in the fact that health care fees were going to go up; and said it was important to get that answered.

She said the Opposition party would “hate to think” that the budget estimates were recorded just to make the Budget fit and asked whether they would need to have supplements that reflected afterwards the actual expenditure.

“If we have gotten to that stage of accounting we are in trouble and we have to say that is no good.”

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Published March 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Updated March 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm)

Senator questions why overseas medical grant for vulnerable is halved

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