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Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1926

(Question No. 4797)

Mr Porter asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 17 October 1986:

Are spouses and dependants of concessional or pensioner health card holders entitled to the same benefit as the card holder, regardless of income.

Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Yes. Pensioner and concessional health cards are issued, subject to income and asset test assessment at the time of application and review by the Department of Social Security.

The only exception to this is in the case of a blind person. Persons who are accepted as blind for the purposes of the Social Security Act are entitled to receive the relevant maximum rate of pension along with a Pensioner Health Benefits (PHB) card with entitlement to fringe benefits (including free pharmaceutical benefits) and additional pension for one child (where there is a qualifying child), irrespective of the level of their or their spouse's income or assets.

On 1 July 1986 the definition of a dependant of a pensioner under the National Health Act was changed from ``wife of the pensioner'' to ``spouse of the pensioner'' to comply with the Sex Discrimination Act.

Consequently the husband of a woman in receipt of a blind pension may now be eligible to receive free pharmaceutical benefits irrespective of income or assets.