The NSW Minister for Health, the Hon Jillian Skinner recently announced increased funding for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS). From January 1 2012, increased financial assistance to patients who need to travel long distances to access specialist medical treatment is available, and an increased number of people are able to access the scheme. IPTAAS is a subsidy scheme, introduced in 2006, to improve access to non-emergency health-related transport. It recognises that health disadvantage can be worsened by difficulties in travelling to and from health care by cost, distance or isolation problems.
Who is eligible?
Any NSW resident eligible for Medicare who has to travel a (cumulative) distance of at least 200 kilometres in a week to access their nearest treating specialist (including prosthesis/orthotic referrals). The ‘nearest specialist’ ruling can be complicated, but can be varied where there are medical grounds (which can include family support).
Who/what is not eligible?
What may be provided?
A $40 co-contribution (deduction) is made from each weekly subsidy payment, on the grounds that other patients incur expenses in accessing specialist treatment. The co-contribution is not required of pensioners or health care card holders, and is capped at a maximum of $1000 within a one year period.
How to apply
You must complete sections A and D of the application form , and the referring medical practitioner and treating specialist must complete sections B and C respectively. The completed form must be lodged within 6 months of each journey or block treatment. Claims are processed within 30 days of receipt. Where multiple visits to the same specialist are required, a travel diary may be used.
Receipts (public transport, taxi/accommodation) must be retailed and submitted with an application.
The above is a very brief summary of the scheme – more information can be obtained from the scheme’s website, or by telephoning the relevant IPTAAS office contact listed here. APMA members can obtain advice and assistance on the scheme by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Pain Link on 1300 340 357.
Assistance in other States and Territories
There are similar schemes operating in each State or Territory, although who is eligible, what is provided and how it can be accessed varies greatly. Click on the link below to access information about the assistance scheme in your State or Territory (note that this information will be progressively added during February).