Paying family carers – Amendment Bill passed

The New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Bill (No 2) has passed through Parliament today.  

New Zealand is only the third country in the world, after Sweden and the Netherlands, where some family carers can be paid a wage to care for their disabled family member, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the Bill is the Government’s solution to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Atkinson and others v Ministry of Health which found the Ministry of Health policy of not paying some family carers of disabled people was discriminatory.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the Bill clarifies the Government’s position on paying some family members to care for their severely disabled adult children and provides certainty about eligibility without the need to resort to the Courts on individual cases. 

“We recognise the crucial role of families in providing care and support to their disabled family members – this bill balances the interests of those who are being cared for, the families and the taxpayers in challenging financial times,” Mr Ryall says. 

“This bill enables around 1600 disabled adults with high and very high needs to pay family members to care for them at home.  

“The Government will invest $92million over the next four years to pay for this support package at an estimated cost is $23million a year. It is expected the policy will take effect on October 1. 

“Disabled adults who meet the eligibility criteria will be able to choose whether they employ a family carer or continue to use a contracted provider. 

“This new policy is a significant investment supporting those families with greatest need and giving more disabled people and their families more choice and control in the support they receive.” 

“At the same time, it is sustainable within overall health spending. It is a balance and I think we have landed in a fair place,” Mr Ryall says. 

“This adds to the extra $100million the Government is spending on disability support services over the next four years to meet population changes and cost pressures, bringing the total investment to a record $1.1billion next year.”

Source: Office of Tony Ryall.


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