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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 85

(Question No. 966)


Senator Watson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 13 June 1984:

(1) Will the Minister for Health consider making the payment of the domiciliary nursing care benefit operative from the time a patient leaves hospital, in view of the long delays which are being experienced under the present arrangements.

(2) Will the Minister issue a brochure informing patients of the service when it becomes available.


Senator Grimes —The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The National Health Act provides for the domiciliary nursing care benefit to be paid in fortnightly instalments rather than on a daily adjusted basis. The legislation also specifies that actual entitlement to benefit payment does not occur until the commencement of the first fortnight's pay period following approval or re-approval of an application for benefit.

The purpose of fortnightly payment is to ensure that funds available for payments of this nature are expended as far as possible on the benefits rather than on excessively detailed administration.

There is further provision in the Act that the permanent head of my Department may determine benefits on a daily basis. That provision is intended to cope with cases where a beneficiary would be otherwise disadvantaged.

Delays in restoration of the benefit may occur depending on the time taken by an applicant to inform my Department that the patient has returned home. Such delays do not result in loss of benefit because restoration is made retrospectively to the date of entitlement, that is the first pay period following return to care.

(2) A pamphlet outlining the domiciliary nursing care benefit is currently being revised.