by Morinville News Staff
The provincial government says improvements to the medical trip benefit will help low-income seniors who travel from rural or remote areas of the province for treatment or care.
An additional $550,000 has been included in the 2017 Budget to help low-income seniors cover costs, including transportation and accommodation, associated with travel for specialist medical appointments.
The province says approximately 1,800 seniors receive assistance each year for medical trip benefits.
Seniors can apply for up to $5,000 per year in medical trip benefits.
Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, said seniors built the province and deserved to retire with dignity.
“Our government is making life better by protecting and enhancing seniors’ benefits. Today’s announcement will help seniors afford to get the care they need,” Sigurdson said Friday in Gibbons at the Dew Drop Inn.
The enhancements to the program received the applause of Fred Olsen, president of the Alberta Council on Aging.
“Our council supports the enhancements to the medical trip benefit and applauds the government’s commitment to providing greater supports to rural seniors who must travel to larger centres for care,” Olsen said.
Changes to the program
Changes to the Special Needs Assistance medical trip benefit take effect July 1 and include the following changes:
Overnight accommodation support increases from $75 to $100.
Minimum travel distance is reduced from 100 to 80 kilometres round-trip to qualify for the benefit.
A one-time benefit of $85 is provided to help with medical transport costs for a resident moving from a long-term care facility to another care facility.
Increased funding is available for seniors who travel more than 400 kilometres to their appointments.