Cash splash for pensioners

UPDATE: Pensioners are to receive a one-off cash payment as part of the government’s stimulus package.

About 2.5 million pensioners,  680,000 JobSeeker – or Newstart – recipients and all those receiving a Carer’s Allowance will receive $750 as the government attempts to kickstart the economy in the face of the coronavirus, which has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

The payments will start to  flow from 31 March. 

The $17.6 billion stimulus package has wiped out the budget surplus, finance minister Mathias Cormann announced this morning.

The bulk of the package is directed at supporting more than 700,000 small to medium business nationwide and keeping about 120,000 apprentices and trainees in work.

The one-off payment to pensioners is in addition to the Age Pension increases revealed by YourLifeChoices yesterday. The fortnightly increases, including supplements, amounted to an extra $10.90 per fortnight for singles and $8.30 per fortnight for each member of a couple.

A move to reconsider deeming rates after last week’s Reserve Bank cut to official cash rates – to a record low of 0.5 per cent – is also being considered by the government.

Meanwhile, health minister Greg Hunt says that over-70s, cancer patients and pregnant women will be offered bulk-billed medical consultations via phone, video link or WhatsApp, to help contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Details of the government’s $2.4 billion health plan to tackle the worldwide COVID-19 crisis were announced on Wednesday.

“This package is about preventing and treating coronavirus in the coming weeks,” Mr Morrison said.

“Australia isn’t immune, but with this $2.4 billion boost we’re as well prepared as any country in the world.

“Our medical experts have been preparing for an event like this for years and this is the next step up in Australia’s plan.”

The new Medicare payments for at-home care for coronavirus sufferers and vulnerable patients are set to take effect on Friday and will be fully bulk-billed. They will allow medical, nursing and mental health medical staff to deliver services over the phone via video conference, including via FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp.

Those eligible include:

  • people isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner
  • those who meet the national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with national or state hotlines, registered medical or nursing practitioners or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage staff
  • people aged over 70
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50
  • patients with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised
  • parents with new babies
  • pregnant women.

 

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Written by Janelle Ward

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