The state government has announced a major increase to the fuel subsidy program which currently provides help to more than 13,000 rural South Australians.
The Patient Assistance Transport Scheme’s significant increase is the first in 20 years and will see the fuel subsidy double from 16c per km to 32c per km.
People travelling from Port Augusta to Adelaide, for example, will now be entitled to around $200 for a return trip, a significant increase from the original $100 on offer.
“This is great news for the many thousands of people who access the scheme now or may need to travel for medical treatment in the future,” Health and Wellbeing Minister Chris Picton said.
“We are pleased to deliver the first significant increase since 2001 to what we know is an important subsidy that supports South Australians living in regional and rural areas.”
The scheme, known as PATS, gives financial assistance to those living remotely who need to travel more than 100km, each way, for eligible medical appointments that are otherwise not locally available.
Approved medical specialist services include: chemotherapy, BreastScreen SA, inpatient rehabilitation services and Pregnancy Advisory Centre.
Appointments with a specialist recognised under the Medical Board of Australia and registered with Medicare Australia are also approved. However, appointments with allied health professionals, general practitioners, nursing professionals and general dental practitioners are ineligible for the subsidy. Additionally, surgery for cosmetic reasons, monitoring programs and clinical trials aren’t covered.
“This increase will give a helping hand to more people needing to travel to vital medical appointments,” Acting Executive Director of Rural Support Service, Dr Hendrika Meyer said.
Having already taken effect on January 1, the subsidy increase is expected to be warmly welcomed as the cost of living and fuel prices continue to rise.
“With the rising costs of living and increasing fuel costs, we know how important this subsidy is to people living in regional remote communities,” Dr Meyer said.
The funds given as part of the PATS subsidy can also be used for air travel and accommodation if authorised by the specialist doctor.
Funded by the South Australian government and operated by Rural Support Service on behalf of SA’s six regional Local Health Networks, the subsidy also provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – travelling to specialist appointments – additional support where eligible.
The scheme is also available for those approved to drive patients to and from appointments.
To check eligibility and to apply, visit www.pats.sa.gov.au.
Extracted in full from: https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/significant-increase-in-patient-assistance-transport-scheme-announced/news-story/5346c558b988978f98f604f4d79d2706