The Andrews Labor Government is being called on to take immediate action to fix the failing Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS). The scheme reimburses travel and accommodation costs incurred by rural Victorians when they are required to travel more than 100 kilometres one way for specialist medical treatment.
Member for Lowan and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Emma Kealy said that while it is widely recognised Victoria’s health system is in crisis, one element the Andrews Labor Government could move quickly to fix was VPTAS,
“VPTAS is widely used by many Lowan residents who must travel to Melbourne and other locations to receive the specialist treatment they require.
“The current guidelines for payment are 6-8 weeks however I am informed that some people are only now being reimbursed for trips made as far back as August 2022, some seven months ago.
“One of my constituents told me that she contacted them about a lack of payment for a claim she had lodged and was advised that because of a different system introduced last year, claims are now processed in Melbourne.
“My constituent used to post her claim to an office in Ballarat where it was acknowledged a few days later and paid within a week.
“My constituent advises that both she and her husband have had to postpone necessary treatment in Melbourne many times because of the travel and accommodation costs involved and not having the money to pay for them.
“Obtaining a specialist appointment is hard enough at the present time, but then having to fork out the upfront costs and be made to wait months to be reimbursed is just not good enough.
“Rural and regional Victorians are already significantly disadvantaged in terms of access to health care.
“The Minister for Health needs to act immediately and allocate the resources necessary to ensure these applications are processed in a reasonable timeframe to help these people access the health services that they need and are entitled to,” she said.