Easing The Burden for Regional and Rural Patients

Labor will the ease financial burden for regional & rural patients seeking specialist care or requiring treatment a long distance from home.

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A Foley Labor Government will ease the financial burden associated with travelling for medical treatment from rural and regional NSW – by modestly increasing funding to the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).

Under Labor, patients undergoing treatment for illnesses such as cancer will receive extra assistance to help with the financial burden of paying for travel and accommodation to receive treatment a long distance from their homes.

This complements Labor’s earlier decision to remove the co-payment on chemotherapy treatment in NSW public hospitals.

A Foley Labor Government will change payments available under IPTAAS – increasing the fuel subsidy by 58 per cent and commercial accommodation allowance by 39 per cent.

Labor will bring the fuel subsidy up to 30 cents/km (an additional 11 cents) and the accommodation subsidy for commercial accommodation to $60/night for a single room and $83/night for a double room.

These are modest increases, but they take into account the extra costs that families seeking treatment face.

To be eligible for the IPTAAS subsidy, patients must:

  • Be undergoing specialist treatment, for illnesses such as cancer, that is not available locally; and
  • Live more than 100km from the nearest treating specialist (or cumulative journeys to the specialist exceed 200km per week)

Payment will be available in advance for concession card holders and others experiencing financial hardship. Payment will be able to be made directly to travel companies, or in the form of petrol cards based on estimated travel distances.

Labor’s increase to IPTAAS will cost an estimated $17 million over the forward estimates.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader Luke Foley: “The last thing someone suffering from a serious illness needs is being massively out of pocket when travelling away from home for treatment.

“A Labor Government will increase the IPTAAS subsidy for rural and regional patients – to make the specialist treatment more affordable.

“Patients should not have to turn down necessary treatment because they cannot afford the travel costs to get there.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Health Walt Secord: “Rural patients often have to travel significant distances to be treated for serious illnesses. This causes an extra financial burden on patient and families.”

“A Foley Labor Government will alleviate some of the burden on patients during their most stressful times by increasing the travel subsidy for patients in rural and regional NSW.

“Increasing the funding will deliver better health outcomes to patients in rural and remote areas.”

Key Facts

  • In 2013/14 37.37 million kilometres and 120,000 nights of accommodation were claimed through IPTAAS.
  • Under IPTAAS, the fuel subsidy is paid at a rate of 19 cents/km. The accommodation subsidy for commercial accommodation is $43/night for a single room, and $60/night for a double room. If a patient stays with friends or family, they receive $20/night. Reimbursement and assistance with public transport, taxis and flights is also available.
  • Labor will bring the fuel subsidy up to 30 cents/km (an additional 11 cents) and the accommodation subsidy for commercial accommodation to $60/night for a single room and $83/night for a double room. 

Read more about Labor's plan for rural, regional and coastal health.