Communities across the Cootamundra electorate are to benefit from an expansion of the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS), with the NSW Government investing an additional $149.5 million as part of the 2022-23 NSW Budget.
Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has welcomed the funding boost which will see more people in the region being eligible for subsidised travel and accommodation if they need to travel to receive specialist care.
“We understand travel and accommodation can be expensive and we’re committed to doing what we can to ease the financial pressure on patients,” Ms Cooke said.
“We know there are a large number of people in the Cootamundra electorate who previously have been unable to receive help under this scheme, who will now be eligible.”
For the first time, the scheme will be expanded with patients seeking non-commercial clinical trials, high risk foot clinics, highly specialised publicly funded dental health clinics and ocularists to be eligible for assistance.
The subsidy for people requiring accommodation will be almost doubled, while the NSW Government will also nearly double the private vehicle subsidy rate from 22 cents to 40 cents per kilometre for patients who need to travel more than 100 kilometres for care.
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the announcement will see a huge weight lifted off so many patients who were previously unable to receive help.
“We know that when you have to travel for healthcare, the costs can quickly add up, and this can be a huge financial burden on patients and their families,” Mrs Taylor said.
“If we as Government can do one thing to support people and their families during a time of great emotional and financial distress, this is it.”
Treasurer Matt Kean said the boost will put NSW well ahead of other states with how comprehensive and generous its patient travel subsidy scheme is.
“This funding will see our overall investment in IPTAAS tripled over the next four years, with the NSW Government leading the way to assist rural and regional patients in getting the help and support they need,” Mr Kean said.
“Networked, highly specialised care sometimes requires significant travel in our rural and remote communities and this scheme is essential to ensuring people can access the care while also reducing the out of pocket costs.”
2225 people in the Cootamundra Electorate were supported last year under the IPTAAS scheme.
The $149.5 million investment is part of the NSW Government’s $4.5 billion record commitment to the NSW Health workforce with 10,148 full time equivalent staff to be recruited over four years.