Wednesday, 28 September 2022
WEDNESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2022
Thousands of older Australians miss out on cost of living relief due to coalition delay
Around 44,000 older Australians will miss out on much-needed cost of living relief due to the Liberal-National opposition refusing to pass legislation today to expand access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
The Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Lifting the Income Limit for the Commonwealth Seniors Heath Card) Bill would have raised the income thresholds for seniors to get access to the card, which would have provided medical and pharmaceutical concessions for those who have reached age pension or veteran pension age.
More than 44,000 newly eligible CSHC holders were expected to benefit within the first year of implementation and an additional 52,000 card holders would get access to the card by 2026-27.
Instead, the opposition tacked on a completely unrelated amendment to the Bill in the Senate preventing it from passing into law, and prioritising politics above the needs of older Australians.
Seniors will now have to wait at least an additional month to get much-needed cost of living relief.
The same Bill was supported by the Liberal-National opposition in the House of Representatives in July.
The Greens were also due to vote with the opposition to delay the passage of legislation today.
Older Australians will now be unable to access cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), bulk-billed doctor visits (at the discretion of the provider) and the lower thresholds of the PBS and Extended Medicare safety nets.
This stunt will also prevent the income limits for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card increasing from $57,761 to $90,000 for singles and from $92,416 to $144,000 for couples (combined).
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the Liberal-National opposition needed to explain to older Australians why they were blocking cost of living relief at a time when they need it most.
“This delay will mean eligible older Australians will continue to have to pay more to get medicines and go to the doctor until the bill passes into law,” Minister Rishworth said.
“We created the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card in 1994 – it is another proud Labor legacy. The Liberal and National parties are happy to deny extra support for seniors – l am appalled they are doing this.”
Parliament will not return until October 25, which is Budget week. This will be the earliest opportunity for the Government attempt to pass this legislation again and ease cost of living relief for older Australians.