Health information grants are an excellent way of providing free or low-cost health care to people with serious health conditions.
In Australia, they are offered by hospitals and other health facilities, and are used for things like the provision of free, short-term medical treatment to people who have a condition.
However, the Government has decided to extend the eligibility period for these grants to a maximum of one year, and the grant period will continue to be extended for at least another year.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced the decision in a statement on Monday, after receiving a number of complaints about the decision to extend grant eligibility.
“This will ensure the health information is available for all Australians, regardless of where they live or what their needs are,” said DHHS Secretary Andrew Colvin in the statement.
According to the announcement, the grant will be used to support the provision of information about emergency services, and to provide information about health conditions to people in crisis.
Under the proposed scheme, the grant will provide funding to local health departments and local authorities to fund the delivery of health information.
A person with a serious health condition who qualifies for the grant would receive information about services available in their local area.
People would also be provided with information about where and when services are available.
It will not, however, cover emergency services or specialist care.
There are also no limits on the number of grant recipients, as long as they have a serious condition, and there will be no limits to how many people could apply for a grant.
This announcement came a week after the Department of Home Affairs announced that the grant was being extended for another year, but did not provide a timeframe for the extension.
On Tuesday, the Department’s National Health Information (NHI) Program Director for Community and Public Sector, Scott Dickson, said that the Department was currently working to finalise a finalised policy for the NHI grant program.
“As part of the ongoing process we are currently working with our partners to finalize policy and guidelines for the National Health information (NHIA) grant program,” Dickson said in a response to a question on the NHIA grant program from the ABC.
Dr Dickson noted that while the Government had been reviewing the NHIF grant program for the last two years, the program had not received a full review.
“The NHIA Grant Program was initially announced in December 2015 and funded through the Commonwealth Grants Scheme (CGSS) in February 2016, and commenced operation on February 1, 2017,” he said.
As well as the extension, the NHIE program will also be affected by the Government’s decision to remove the $6,000 cap on grants from the Health Information and Information Technology (HIT) Program.
HIT funding is a grant given to health professionals who are part of a public sector organisation, and is designed to improve the efficiency of information sharing and collection in the health and social care sector.
Health Information Grants The HIE grant program has been in operation since 2009.
Since that time, the grants have been given out to more than 400 local and regional health authorities across Australia.
Some local authorities also have their own HIE grant programs, with funding for those authorities going to local councils, state governments, local health regions and hospitals.
If a local authority does not have an HIE program, local councils and local health authorities will be given funding through their existing grant programs.
Local councils have until January 1, 2020 to request a grant for any person who they believe has a serious medical condition.
A person who qualifies would receive the information about the services available to them and where and how they can access services, which can include a list of emergency department, GP surgery, urgent care, pharmacy, social work and medical clinic referral services.
Anyone who qualifies will also receive an information sheet detailing how they could access a range of free and short-terms medical care.
“Information about emergency service providers, the availability of free short- term medical treatment, access to health information and other essential health services will be provided to people,” said a DHHS press release.
These services include access to primary health care, emergency services and mental health services.
Health information grants will continue to be available for up to two years.
While the extension of the grant is not yet confirmed, it has been announced that a further four years of the grants will be extended, to 2020-21.
More to come.
[Images via DHHS]