Half of all long-term care residents will have to pay higher fees

Half of all long-term care residents will have to pay higher fees when the provincial budget cuts back subsidies on July 1.

Budget also transfers hearing, podiatry services to private sector

Higher fees for long-term care are among the changes and cuts to services in the provincial health budget. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Half of all long-term care residents will have to pay higher fees when the provincial budget cuts back subsidies on July 1.

As part of Wednesday's health budget, the percentage of income paid, on top of the minimum $1,086 monthly fee, will rise from 50 per cent to 57.5 per cent.

The maximum monthly fee will increase from $2,065 to $2,689.

The government said the fee hike will apply to about half of all special-care home residents.

The remaining 50 per cent will continue to pay the minimum monthly fee with no income charges, according to budget documents.

Cuts to hearing and podiatry services

People needing podiatry and hearing services will also be affected by Wednesday's health budget.

The government's Hearing Aid Plan will be phased out for everyone except low-income residents, eliminating the plan's coverage of audiological evaluation and subsidized hearing aids.

Affected clients will soon have to access those services through the private system. The government says it will save $3 million by eliminating the plan, which lost two audiologists from Saskatoon Health Region cuts in 2017

The budget will also phase out public coverage of podiatry services worth $1.2 million, low-cost orthotic services valued at $285,000 and the provision of sleep apnea devices worth $800,000. 

Public coverage for chiropractic services will also be axed completely as the budget revokes coverage for the last remaining low-income recipients on July 1.

People needing travel vaccinations will have to turn to private pharmacies and physicians as those services are handballed away from public health offices. 

Record health investment in 2017, says province 

Despite Wednesday's cuts and fee hikes, the government says the budget puts a record $5.2-billion investment towards health.

That includes $3.4-billion for Regional Health Authorities, including $12 million to reduce emergency department wait times in Saskatoon and Regina.

The health budget also includes $750,000 to begin a human papillomavirus (HPV) program for Grade 6 boys, expanding the existing program for girls.

More than $83 million will also go towards capital investment, an increase of 17.2 per cent.


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