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Veterans' Entitlements Amendment (Gold Card Extension) Bill 2002

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2002

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 VETERANS’ ENTITLEMENTS AMENDMENT (GOLD CARD EXTENSION) BILL 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs,

The Honourable Danna Vale MP)

 

 



 

Table of Contents

 

 

Outline and Financial Impact ……………………………………………………. ii

           

            1          Short Title ………………………………………………………….. iii

            2          Commencement ……………………………………………………. iii

            3          Schedule(s) …………………………………………………………  iii

 

 

Schedule 1 - Amendment of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 …………….  1

 

 

 



 

OUTLINE

 

Outline and Financial Impact

These amendments to the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 extend full Repatriation Health care entitlement (Gold Card) to Australian veterans who are aged 70 or over and who have post-World War 2 qualifying service.

 

 

Date of Effect

1 July 2002

 

 

Financial                                                Year                                    Net Outlays

Impact                       

2002 - 03

$16.4m

2003 - 04

$20.9m

2004 - 05

$25.3m

2005 - 06

$30.4m

 

 



 

CLAUSES

 

 

Short Title

Clause 1 sets out how the Act is to be cited.

 

Commencement

Clause 2 sets out the commencement date of the Act.

 

Schedule(s)
 

Clause 3 provides that the Act specified in Schedule 1 is amended as set out in the items of that Schedule.

 

 



 

SCHEDULE 1

 

Amendment of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986

 

Overview

These amendments to the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) extend full Repatriation health care entitlement (Gold Card) to Australian veterans who are aged 70 or over and who have qualifying service in respect of any period after World War 2.

 

Background

Parts V and VA of the VEA provide for the Repatriation Commission (the Commission) to make arrangements and pay for the provision of medical treatment and other health services for veterans and dependants of veterans entitled under the VEA.

 

There are four levels of treatment that may be provided:

 

·          under Part V treatment may be provided:

 

·          for any injury suffered or disease contracted regardless of when the injury or disease was suffered or contracted.  Eligible veterans or the eligible dependant of a deceased veteran receive a Repatriation Health Card - For All Conditions, better known as a Gold Card;

 

·          for war or defence-caused injuries or diseases, or certain specified conditions such as malignant neoplasia and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Eligible veterans receive a Repatriation Health Card - For Specific Conditions, better known as a White Card;

 

·          specified treatment to otherwise ineligible veterans, dependants or former dependants for certain specified conditions.  Eligible veterans receive a White Card; and

 

·          under Part VA of the VEA, Commonwealth and allied veterans and allied mariners may receive pharmaceuticals through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.  Eligible veterans and mariners receive a Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Card, better known as an Orange Card. The Orange Card provides pharmaceuticals only and does not provide eligibility for other treatment.

 

 

 



Background (Cont.)

 

Treatment includes but is not limited to services such as:

 

·          private patient hospital care;

·          general practitioner services;

·          specialist treatment;

·          optical care;

·          physiotherapy;

·          podiatry;

·          home nursing care; and

·          dental services.

 

Full health care benefits were extended to World War 1 veterans 55 years after the end of that conflict and to World War 2 veterans, aged 70 or over, with qualifying service from that conflict, 54 years after the end of that war.

 

Explanation of the Changes

These amendments to the VEA will extend eligibility for a Gold Card to Australian veterans who are aged 70 or over and who have post-World War 2 qualifying service.

 

Definition of Veteran

‘Veteran’ is defined as follows in subsection 5C(1) of the VEA:

 

veteran means:

 

(a) a person (including a deceased person):

(i) who is, because of section 7, taken to have rendered eligible war service; or

(ii) in respect of whom a pension is, or pensions are, payable under subsection 13(6); and

(b) in Parts III and VIIC also includes a person who is:

(i) a Commonwealth veteran; or

(ii) an allied veteran; or

(iv) an allied mariner.

 

Only paragraph (a) of the definition applies to this measure because paragraph

(b) of the definition, which provides for a Commonwealth or allied veteran or an allied mariner, applies only to Parts III and VIIC of the VEA, and this measure relates to Part V of the VEA. 

 

Definition of Veteran (Cont.)

A ‘veteran’, as defined in paragraph (a) of the definition in subsection 5C(1), is a person with ‘eligible war service’ or a person in respect of whom a pension is, or pensions are, payable under subsection 13(6) of the VEA.  ‘Eligible war service’ is achieved by having ‘operational service’.  ‘Operational service’ for post World War II periods is defined in sections 6C - 6F and applies only to members of the Australian Defence Force or a member of a defence force of a Commonwealth or allied country who was domiciled in Australia immediately prior to their appointment or enlistment. 

 

Veterans, covered by paragraph (a) of the definition in 5C(1), who may now be eligible for a Gold Card are:

 

·          members of the ‘Defence Force’ of Australia; or

·          a member of a defence force of a Commonwealth or allied country who was domiciled in Australia or an external Territory immediately prior to their appointment or enlistment.

 

 

Qualifying service

‘Qualifying service’ is defined in section 7A of the VEA.  The major test for qualifying service is that the veteran has, in operations against the enemy, “incurred danger from hostile forces of the enemy”.  This is an objective and not a subjective test.

 

If  a person is determined not to have qualifying service, the person has a right to request a review of the determination.

 

For such service to constitute post-World War 2 ‘qualifying service’ for the purposes of this measure, a person must meet the requirements of either subparagraphs 7A(1)(a)(ii), (iii), or (iv) or paragraphs 7A(1)(b), (c) or (f) of the VEA. 

 

It should be noted that, in relation to persons who served in a Commonwealth or allied defence force as per paragraphs 7A(1)(b) or (c), only those who were domiciled in Australia prior to their appointment or enlistment are covered by this measure. 

 

Some veterans will be automatically sent a Gold Card
 

Many veterans will not need to submit an application for a Gold Card.  The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (the Department) will be able to identify from its records, many veterans who will qualify by virtue of their age and qualifying service and these veterans will automatically be sent a Gold Card before 1 July 2002.  (Although, the Gold Card and subsequent eligibility for treatment will not commence until 1 July 2002.)

 

Application for Gold Card

Veterans not readily identifiable to the Department will be able to complete a new application form for the Gold Card. If the Commission has not already made a determination about whether or not the veteran has qualifying service, then a determination will be made as a result of this application.

 



C ommencement Dates

It must be noted that, under no circumstances can a veteran become eligible for treatment under new subsection 85(4B) before he or she meets the criteria set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of new subsection 85(4B) .  Nor can a veteran become eligible under new subsection 85(4B) before 1 July 2002 as the Act will not commence until 1 July 2002.

 

For those eligible veterans who automatically receive a Gold Card in the mail before 1 July 2002, their eligibility will commence on and from 1 July 2002.

 

Eligible veterans who do not automatically receive a Gold Card and who are or turn 70 before 1 July 2002 and who apply before 1 July 2002 will be eligible from 1 July 2002.

 

Eligible veterans who do not automatically receive a Gold Card and who are or turn 70 before 1 July 2002 and who apply after 1 July 2002 will be eligible from the date their written application is received by the Department.

 

For those eligible veterans who turn 70 after 1 July 2002, and who apply before they turn 70, their eligibility will commence on and from the date they turn 70. 

 

 



 

Explanation of the Items

 

Item 1

Item 1 inserts new subsection 85(4B) after subsection 85(4A).  New subsection 85(4B) provides the new criteria under which full Repatriation health care benefits may be granted to eligible veterans.

 

To be eligible under new subsection 85(4B) a person must be a ‘veteran’, as defined in paragraph (a) of the definition of ‘veteran’ in subsection 5C(1), must be aged 70 years or over and must have qualifying service of a kind referred to in either subparagraphs 7A(1)(a)(ii), (iii) or (iv) or paragraphs 7A(1)(b), (c) or (f).  These subparagraphs and paragraphs contain post-World War 2 qualifying service provisions.

 

Paragraph (c) of new subsection 85(4B) provides that a veteran’s eligibility for treatment cannot commence before either of the following have occurred:

 

·          the Department has notified the veteran, in writing, that he or she is or will be eligible for such treatment; or

·          the veteran has notified the Department in writing that he or she seeks eligibility for such treatment.

 

  

Item 2

Item 2 provides that the notifications referred to in new subparagraphs 85(4B)(c)(i) or (ii) may be given before this Schedule commences.  The Schedule will commence on 1 July 2002. 

 

The Note after this item goes on to explain that the notifications may be issued before 1 July 2002 so that a veteran can be eligible for treatment from the earliest possible date, being 1 July 2002.  This will ensure that administrative tasks, such as the determination of applications, will not delay the commencement of a veteran’s eligibility for full Repatriation health care benefits.  However, a veteran must have first satisfied the criteria in new paragraphs 85(4B)(a) and (b) , that is, be aged 70 years or over and have post World War 2 qualifying service. 

 

Where a veteran has been notified by the Department that they will be eligible for a Gold Card from 1 July 2002, the veteran will become eligible for treatment from 1 July 2002, the commencement date of the Act, but not before.

 

Item 2 (Cont.)

No veteran can become eligible for treatment by virtue of this Act before

1 July 2002.  For example, a person who is aged 70 before 1 July 2002 and who notifies the Department in May 2002 that they seek eligibility for treatment, cannot become eligible before this Act commences, the earliest date being 1 July 2002, which is the commencement date of this Act.