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Labor urged to reimburse regional seniors slugged with excess fees

The Nationals WA have urged the McGowan Government to stop attacking the hip pocket of some regional seniors after it was revealed they were being slugged $280 for what is a free medical assessment in other parts of the State.

The call comes amid revelations that people over the age of 80 in some regional areas are being forced to cough up $280 for a medical assessment in order to retain their driver’s licence.

Spokesperson for Health Martin Aldridge said in most parts of the State the routine assessments were undertaken by general practitioners and would typically be bulk-billed given the age of the patient seeking the assessment.

“However it has been identified that this is not always the case in regional WA,” he said.

Mr Aldridge has written to the WA Country Health Service and both the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Health requesting an immediate blanket exemption from the “grossly unfair” fee.

“After putting pressure on the State Government in Parliament last week, the Minister for Health has refused to answer my questions relating to the number of people who have been charged this exorbitant fee,” Mr Aldridge said.

“However, we now see WACHS has identified 206 such cases where regional seniors were charged for the assessment.

“This is simply not good enough for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and I am urging the Labor Government to reimburse those who have been forced to pay.”

Mr Aldridge today used Question Time again to ask the Minister for Health further questions regarding the fees and a possible reimbursement.

“Regional West Australians are already paying much higher prices for day-to-day living expenses,” he said.

“They should not be disadvantaged further by being charged $280 for what is an otherwise free assessment that is a requirement to continue to be able to drive a motor vehicle.”

Transport spokesperson Vince Catania said for many regional WA seniors their motor vehicle was their only way of getting around as public transport is very limited.

“Their driver’s licence enables them to maintain an active and social lifestyle, while allowing them to get to medical appointments and visit family,” he said.

“A charge for such an assessment is simply penalising people who live in the regions.”