Cuts to Medical Coverage and Minimum Shelter Allowance
Following the March 2nd budget, the Ministry of Housing and Social Development announced it will be making a number of cuts to the health and medical services available to people receiving provincial disabilitybenefits and income assistance. The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) is very concerned about the impact that these changes will have on our community.
We are also disappointed at the lack of community consultation about these cuts. If you share our concerns, we invite you to write to Minister Coleman and your MLA. You can find your local MLA and Minister Coleman’s contact information by going to http://www.leg.bc.ca/Mla/3-1-1.htm.
The BCCPD is currently reviewing the new regulations in order to provide you with detailed information on the changes. In the meantime, here is a very brief list of some of the changes which will come into force on April 1st (unless we have indicated a different date).
Medical Equipment and Supplies
A broad range of medical equipment and supplies will no longer be funded by the Ministry. Those that will be funded must be the cheapest appropriate to the person’s needs and are listed in the regulations. Here are some examples of items that the Ministry will no longer fund:
- diagnostic testing devices such as glucose meters
- contraceptive devices (for example, IUDs)
- pre-made orthotics.
In addition to changes to what the Ministry will fund, there will be restrictions, for example on:
- how often the Ministry will repair or replace equipment
- how much money the Ministry will spend on each item of equipment. For instance, motorized scooters valued at more than $3,500 will not be funded. To be eligible for a motorized scooter, a physician must say the applicant won’t need a wheelchair for 5 years.
Monthly Nutritional Supplement (MNS)
The eligibility requirements for the MNS have been tightened. For example:
- loss of bone density will no longer count as a symptom
- significant weight loss not significant weight change will be used to determine eligibility.
- applicants will be required to demonstrate they have at least two symptoms, rather than one which is currently the case.
The MNS will be reduced by $20 because the Ministry will no longer fund bottled water. People currently receiving the bottled water supplement will receive it until May 31st 2010 only.
Medical Services: Time limits and Income-Testing
- People with disabilities who leave assistance when they turn 65 and go on to the seniors’ pension, or people who leave provincial disability for Canada Pension Plan Disability will only keep their medical and dental coverage for one year, rather than permanently as is currently the case.
- People with disabilities who leave assistance for employment will only keep their medical coverage if they are receiving Premium Assistance from the Medical Services Plan.
- Cleaning, examinations and fluoride treatments will be reduced to once a year (currently twice a year).
- X-ray coverage every 2 years (currently every year).
The $75 monthly Shelter Allowance for people who don’t pay rent is eliminated as of June 1st 2010.