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Thursday, 4 July 2019
Page: 311

Mr CHESTER (GippslandMinister for Veterans and Defence Personnel and Deputy Leader of the House) (11:55): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I'm pleased to introduce the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Single Treatment Pathway) Bill 2019. The bill is designed to provide veterans with a more timely, convenient and user-friendly method of accessing their medical treatment.

The Australian community has a clear expectation that veterans will be well looked after, and of course as a government we're absolutely committed to putting veterans and their families first.

This bill will simplify access to medical treatment for veterans without the need for claim forms or upfront costs via a Department of Veterans' Affairs health card.

The amendments to the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004would remove and replace the dual treatment pathway model with a single treatment pathway model. The amendments would mean that all DVA clients would have access to health care via a DVA health card.

Since the introduction of DVA health cards, uptake in treatment among veterans has improved, indicating that, where they don't face any up-front costs, veterans are more likely to access treatment for service related injury or disease.

DVA health cards provide veterans with an easier way to access treatment which is not compromised by the inability to afford treatment.

Once this bill is passed, veterans will only need to present their DVA health card at the time of receiving medical treatment, and payments will be made directly to health providers via the Medicare system. Around 4,000 clients will no longer have to pay up-front and then seek reimbursement from DVA. Importantly, this bill retains discretionary power for the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission to reimburse a person the cost of treatment or pay directly a health provider in special circumstances.

These amendments will mean better outcomes for veterans, as they will have easier access to treatment as and when they need it.

I commend this bill.

Debate adjourned.