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Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Page: 3203

Mrs ELLIOT (Minister for Ageing) (9:44 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce the National Health Amendment (Continence Aids Payment Scheme) Bill 2010.

The bill delivers on the 2009-10 budget commitment to introduce the Continence Aids Payment Scheme.

The Continence Aids Payment Scheme will assist people who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the costs of their continence products through a direct payment.

It replaces the current Continence Aids Assistance Scheme which provides continence products through a government agreement with a sole supplier.

The bill will enable the formulation of a legislative scheme under which the Commonwealth will make direct cash payments as a contribution towards the cost of buying products that manage incontinence.

Medicare Australia will transact the payments on behalf of the Department of Health and Ageing and the department will retain policy authority for the new scheme.

Importantly, the bill introduces transition arrangements for clients of the current scheme to the new scheme from 1 July 2010.

The bill also ensures adequate transparency and accountability by enabling the review of decisions made under the scheme, including via the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, as well as by allowing the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, or the Medicare Australia CEO, to audit payment arrangements by requesting information about CAPS eligibility or payment(s).

This power will enable prompt investigation into any claims of ineligibility or improper use of funds.

Failure to comply with a request for information will be an offence under the National Health Act 1953, which provides a deterrent to behaviour which may be contrary to the intent of the new scheme.

Consistent with the government’s 2009-10 budget announcements, the program will be funded by a special (standing) appropriation enabled under section 137(1) of the National Health Act 1953.

This is particularly important in the context of an eligibility based, demand driven program.

Subject to the passage of the bill through parliament, the new Continence Aids Payment Scheme arrangements will take effect from 1 July 2010.


As I mentioned, I am very pleased to be able to introduce this bill and the change to the continence product supplier market that the introduction of the new scheme represents.

I am also pleased to deliver on a very important budget measure.

The Continence Aids Payment Scheme promotes consumer choice and control which is consistent with the government’s Charter of Consumer Rights and Responsibilities for Community Care, released in 2009, and which is also promoted in the Commonwealth’s aged-care programs through the Aged Care Act 1997.

As a result of the successful passage of the bill, recipients under the scheme will have greater flexibility and choice in where they purchase their continence products.

Product suppliers and service providers will have equitable access to the client base, in an open and competitive market.

The Department of Health and Ageing will continue to work closely with the sector and the recipients of the scheme over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Andrews) adjourned.