Cuts to Medical Coverage and Minimum Shelter Allowance

Dear Community Partners,
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 disability benefits 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.

Restrictions

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

Updated: As of April 30th, 2010, Medical Services Only (MSO) health coverage restrictions recently introduced by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development (MHSD) have been reversed after concerns were raised by the community. These restrictions limited Medical Services Only coverage for seniors with disabilities leaving provincial assistance and going onto federal pensions, and people leaving provincial assistance for Canada Pension Plan-Disability benefits.

As of April 30th, 2010 this one year restriction has been removed and people will continue to be eligible for Medical Services Only as long as they qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement or Canada Pension Plan benefits. People with disabilities who leave assistance for employment will also keep their medical coverage if they are receiving premium assistance from the Medical Services Plan.

Dental Treatment

  • 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).

Shelter Allowance

The $75 monthly Shelter Allowance for people who don’t pay rent is eliminated as of June 1st 2010.

Disability Community Stunned by Cuts

Disability Community Stunned by Provincial Cuts to Crucial Medical Goods and Services

MEDIA RELEASE                                                           

VANCOUVER – People with disabilities who are already struggling to manage on provincial disability benefits have been told by the Province it will no longer pay for some of the medically essential items and services they depend on.

Beginning April 1st, the Province will no longer fund a range of health items including pre-made foot orthotics, diabetic glucometers and a bottled water supplement of $20 a month for people with conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

“We understand the government is dealing with an economic downturn, but cutting funding for medically essential items to people with disabilities who are already struggling to get by is not the way to deal with it, said Robin Loxton of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD).

“This will not save money,“ said the Coalition’s Executive Director Jane Dyson. “People’s overall health and well-being will deteriorate and they will access the health system more as a result.”

The BCCPD is also particularly concerned about the impact the government’s decision to end the $75 shelter minimum will have on people who are homeless. “Homeless people have shelter-related costs. This cut means these people with disabilities will receive only $531 a month to live on, said Loxton.

The government is also restricting dental services for people with disabilities; for example, beginning April 1st the Province will only pay for x-rays every two years. “The lack of adequate dental coverage has been a long-time concern of our community. Dental health is extremely important and the amount the Province pays is already inadequate at $1,000 every two years,” said Dyson.

Background: People who receive BC disability benefits get a maximum of $375 a month for housing and $531 for everything else, including food and clothing. In order for provincial benefits recipients to access health supplements from the government they must meet all the eligibility requirements under the legislation.

For more information contact:
Robin Loxton: 604-872-1278
Jane Dyson: 604-875-0188