State announces $250 relief as Coalition vows to extend health card

The promises are flowing thick and fast just 19 days out from the federal election, with the Coalition now promising to give an extra 50,000 older Australians access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and one state government going solo with its own strategy to ease cost-of-living pressures.

The $250 cash payments announced in the May Federal Budget began appearing in eligible Australians’ bank accounts from last Thursday. The tax-free payment is being sent to those receiving an Age Pension or who hold an eligible government concession card.

More than six million eligible recipients are receiving the payment.

Now a state government is extending that program with the Herald Sun reporting that Victorian households will get a $250 cash splash to ease living costs.

Every Victorian household is in line for “a major cash splash” under an ambitious scheme to be launched by Premier Daniel Andrews, it says.

With inflation sitting at 5.1 per cent and an interest rate rise imminent, grocery, electricity and fuel prices are hurting most Australians.

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The Herald Sun reports that in order to access the cash, households must register on the Energy Compare website, with the payments starting from 1 July. The scheme will run for a year and finish on 30 June 2023.

Mr Andrews said the one-off payment would help people during the turbulent economic period.

“This is a great opportunity for Victorians to save money, ease the cost of living and cut their energy bills,” he said.

“Big power companies rely on people not having the time, information or knowledge to save money.”

It will reportedly be included in Tuesday’s state budget.

The Coalition is also promising cost-of-living relief through cheaper healthcare and medication for tens of thousands of older Australians.

If elected in the May poll, the Coalition is promising to spend $70 million over four years for an extra 50,000 older Australians access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC), the ABC reports.

The card is currently issued to about 436,000 Australians over 67 who do not qualify for the Age Pension because the value of their assets is too high and gives them access to some cheaper Medicare services and prescription medicines.

It comes with a singles income test of just under $58,000 a year, but the Coalition is proposing to expand eligibility for the card by increasing that to $90,000 from 1 July.

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The couples’ threshold would also rise from just over $92,000 to $144,000. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “This is the first major change, outside of indexation, to the income threshold of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card in over 20 years.

“Every dollar counts, especially for older Australians who are no longer working. 

“Senior Australians have worked hard to make Australia all that it is today, and it’s important that the country takes care of them in return.”

Regardless of who wins the election, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medications will be cheaper.

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Written by Janelle Ward

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