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National Health Amendment (Continence Aids Payment Scheme) Bill 2010

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2008-2009-2010

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL HEALTH AMENDMENT

(CONTINENCE AIDS PAYMENT SCHEME) BILL 2010

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Ageing)

 

 

 

 



NATIONAL HEALTH AMENDMENT

(CONTINENCE AIDS PAYMENT SCHEME) BILL 2010

 

OUTLINE

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the National Health Act 1953 (the Act).  The amendments will provide the Minister with the legislative authority to formulate a scheme (via legislative instrument) providing for payments to eligible persons as a contribution towards the cost of purchasing products that help manage incontinence.

 

The scheme to be formulated by the Minister will be known as the Continence Aids Payments Scheme (the CAP Scheme).  The Scheme will replace the Continence Aids Assistance Scheme (CAA Scheme). 

 

Under the CAA Scheme, eligible people with severe and permanent incontinence are provided each year with up to $489.95 (indexed annually) worth of products that help manage continence.  The CAA Scheme is managed by a sole provider on behalf of the Department of Health and Ageing. 

 

Under the CAP Scheme, eligible people will instead receive a payment as a contribution towards the cost of products.  The new arrangements will provide greater choice to the consumer, promote competition and are expected to reduce the administrative costs associated with the continence aids program.

 

The amount of the contribution payment will be specified in the legislative instrument.

 

The Medicare Australia CEO will deliver the program.

 

The Bill contains provisions for review of decisions made under the CAP Scheme as well as transitional arrangements for clients of the CAA Scheme.

 

Clients of the CAA Scheme will be taken to participate in the CAP Scheme, and be eligible to participate in the CAP Scheme, from 1 July 2010, provided they give certain information to the Medicare Australia CEO to facilitate a contribution payment being made to their nominated bank account.  After 30 June 2011, they must meet the eligibility criteria specified in the Scheme.

 

The Bill provides the Secretary and the Medicare Australia CEO with information-gathering powers for the purposes of determining whether a person is eligible for a contribution payment or determining the contribution amount that is payable.

 

Financial Impact Statement

 

The Bill delivers on the 2009-10 Budget commitment to introduce the Continence Aids Payment Scheme. 

 

Funds for the CAPS payments from 1 July 2010 are included in the Department's Forward Estimates.

 



NATIONAL HEALTH AMENDMENT

(CONTINENCE AIDS PAYMENT SCHEME) BILL 2010

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1 - Short Title

 

This clause provides that the Bill, once enacted, is to be cited as the National Health Amendment (Continence Aids Payment Scheme) Act 2010.



Clause 2 - Commencement

 

This clause provides that the Bill, once enacted, will have a staggered timetable for commencement.   Sections 1 to 3 will commence on Royal Assent.  Schedule 1 inserts provisions into the Act relating to the making of the Scheme, review rights, information gathering powers and transitional arrangements for people in the CAA Scheme, will commence on 1 July 2010.

 

Clause 3 - Schedule

 

The Bill makes amendments to the National Health Act 1953 .         

 

PART 1 - CONTINENCE AIDS PAYMENT SCHEME AMENDMENTS

 

Item 1 - References to legislative instrument in subsections 6(1), (2), (5) and (6)

 

Amendments to these provisions will extend the existing references to 'regulations' in subsections 6(1), (2), (5) and (6) of the Act to 'regulations or another legislative instrument' .  This is to accommodate the fact that the Continence Aids Payment Scheme will be a legislative instrument for the purposes of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 .  These amendments also provide for the Minister or Secretary to make delegations in respect of the performance of functions, or the exercise of powers, set out in the CAP Scheme.

 

Item 2

 

This item inserts a new Part (Part III - Continence Aids Payment Scheme) into the Act.  Part III contains sections 12 to 15 inclusive, which are outlined below.

 

Section 12 - Authority for Continence Aids Payment Scheme

 

This section empowers the Minister to formulate a scheme under which the Commonwealth will make payments to assist people to meet some of the costs of purchasing continence and continence-related products. 

 

The CAP Scheme will be a legislative instrument for the purposes of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 and is subject to disallowance.

 

The legislative instrument may make provision for:

·        an application process;

·        the conditions that must be satisfied before a payment can be made;

·        the amount of contribution payable in each financial year that a person participates in the Scheme; and

·        investigations that may be conducted in order to check a person's continued compliance with the eligibility requirements.

 

Paragraph 12(3)(e) authorises the CAP Scheme to confer functions and powers on the Medicare Australia CEO.

 

Section 13 - Power to request information

 

To assist in the administration and delivery of the CAP Scheme, section 13 gives the Secretary and the Medicare Australia CEO power to request information in certain circumstances. 

 

The information requested must be relevant to determining whether a person is eligible to participate in the CAP Scheme (and is therefore eligible to receive a payment) or the amount of the contribution payment that is payable.

 

The Secretary or Medicare Australia CEO (referred to as an official in proposed subsection 13(2)) may request a person to give the information to the requesting official.

 

By way of example, it is anticipated that the power to request information may be used in conjunction with:

·        the application process that is contemplated by paragraph 12(3)(a); or

·        investigating whether people who are participating in the Scheme are in fact eligible to do so, as contemplated by paragraph 12(3)(d).

 

A request for information can be directed to any person, provided that the official believes, on reasonable grounds, that the person may be in a position to provide relevant information.

 

A request for information must be made in writing.  The request must identify the nature of the information requested and nominate a date by which the person is to comply.  The request may require that the information to be provided is verified by statutory declaration. 

 

A person must be given at least 28 days from the date on which the request for information is made to comply with the request for information.

 

A failure to comply with a request for information made under this section is a strict liability offence.  The meaning of strict liability is set out in section 6.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 .  The penalty for non-compliance with a request for information made under this section is 30 penalty units.  A penalty unit is currently $110 (see section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 ). 

 

Subsection 13(5) outlines the circumstances in which a person will be excused from complying with a request for information.

 

Section 14 - Reviewing decisions about whether an applicant is eligible for the Scheme

 

If the Medicare Australia CEO decides that a person is not eligible to participate in the CAP Scheme, that decision must be notified to the person, in writing.  The notice of the decision must include, among other things, the reasons why the person is not eligible to participate in the Scheme and must also explain that person's review rights.

 

Subsection 14(3) provides that the CAP Scheme will set out a procedure whereby a person who is aggrieved by a decision that a person is not eligible to participate in the CAP Scheme may request a reconsideration of that decision by the Medicare Australia CEO.

 

If an application for review is made in accordance with subsection 14(2) and the procedure outlined in the CAPS Scheme, the Medicare Australia CEO must review the decision.

 

The Medicare Australia CEO must give the aggrieved person a notice which sets out the decision and the day when the decision has effect.  In the event that the Medicare Australia CEO decides that the person is not eligible to participate in the Scheme, the reasons for the decision and details of the person's review rights must also be included in the notice.

 

Subsection 14(5) provides that an application for review of a reconsideration decision may be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

 

Section 15 - Reviewing decisions about whether a person participating in the Scheme is eligible to do so

 

Section 15 is similar in its operation to section 14.  It is specifically directed to a decision concerning a person who is participating in the Scheme and who is not eligible, or is no longer eligible, to do so.

 

People who are clients under the CAA Scheme, immediately prior to 1 July 2010, are to be automatically transitioned to the Scheme in accordance with the transitional provisions referred to below.  If the Medicare Australia CEO decides that a former client of the CAA Scheme is no longer eligible, after 1 July 2011, to participate in the Scheme, that decision will be reviewable under section 15.

 

Item 3 - Transitional provisions

 

Subitem 3(1) provides for the transfer of people who are clients under the CAA Scheme immediately prior to 1 July 2010 to the CAP Scheme. 

 

Subitem 3(2) provides that the former CAA Scheme client is taken to participate, and to be eligible to participate, in the CAP Scheme from 1 July 2010 if they provide a transfer form and bank details to the Medicare Australia CEO by 30 November 2010.  This information will facilitate a contribution payment being made to the person’s nominated bank account.

 

A transfer form is approved by the Secretary, whether before or after item 3 commences.  This allows CAA Scheme clients to take steps before 1 July 2010 to provide the form and bank details to the Medicare Australia CEO before the CAP Scheme commences so that there is no delay in their first payment under the Scheme.  However, they have until 30 November 2010 to provide the information to take advantage of the transition provision.

 

Subitem 3(3) provides that the person is entitled to receive a payment under the CAP Scheme for the financial year starting on 1 July 2010.  The Scheme will set out details of the payment and when it is to be made. 

 

Subitem 3(4) ensures that the Medicare Australia CEO cannot make a decision that the person is not eligible to participate in the CAP Scheme until 1 July 2011.  To remain eligible after that date, the person must meet the eligibility criteria specified in the CAP Scheme.