FUNDING for epilepsy and lymphodema compression bandages and increasing fuel and accommodation subsidies under the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS) are at the top of independent MP Troy Bell’s wish list for 2019.
Coming off a year of wins – including the 10-year legislated ban on fracking in the South East – the Member for Mount Gambier said he hoped this parliamentary year would bring just as many benefits to the electorate.
Mr Bell foreshadowed a push to review the State Government PATS scheme, which provides subsidies towards the cost of travel and accommodation when regional South Australians have to travel to see their nearest medical specialist.
“The last review was in 2013 when I called for it while I was a candidate,” he said.
“The subsidy for fuel is 16c a kilometre and $40 for accommodation per night.
“You could not get an unpowered tent site in Adelaide for $40.
“Nobody is using PATS to make money – you are using it because you have serious health concerns.”
Mr Bell outlined epilepsy reform as another priority.
Last year, Mr Bell’s three-part motion calling on the State Government to provide funding to The Epilepsy Centre was supported in Parliament.
Health Minister Stephen Wade confirmed funding options for a scheme were being developed, but no announcement has yet been made.
South Australia, along with the Northern Territory, are the only jurisdictions in Australia that do not recognise epilepsy as a disability or provide any funding.
“I cannot believe we are the only state that does not receive State Government funding to support people living with epilepsy,” Mr Bell said.
“Just $250,000 to The Epilepsy Centre each year can provide for epilepsy nurses and information to help South Australian families with epilepsy.”
Mr Bell will continue to lobby for a lymphoedema compression garment subsidy scheme after his motion calling for the development of a business case was backed by Parliament.
He said the subsidy would provide people diagnosed with lymphoedema – which can occur as a side effect of cancer treatment – with much needed financial assistance towards the cost of their compression garments.
Mr Bell said costs for the garments range from $200 to more than $3500 per year, with the high costs deterring patients from replacing them when necessary, potentially leading to further health complications including skin infections and cellulitis.
“Again, South Australia is one of the only states where there is no subsidy program available,” he said.
“Some of these garments run in the hundreds of dollars and when people are already dealing with medical bills for breast cancer treatment, it is a lot to handle.
“I think the State Government should be able to help with some of the subsidy.”