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Posted by Philip on 13 June 2012, 4:34 pm in , , ,

Health minister fudges family figures

Hon Tony Ryall, speaking on Radio New Zealand this morning, clearly omitted to tell the other side of the fiscal impact of the government's decision not to appeal the Court of Appeal decision in the Ministry of Health v Atkinson & Others Family Carers case.

Ryall said the cost of paying families will rise as more family members opt to be supported by their relatives. However if, as he said, these people were assessed as eligible for funding, the money would need to be allocated anyway. What he didn't say was that the money would either go to a non-family member or a residential home instead.

He also didn't say that, if a person eligible for funded support chose to leave a residential home in favour of family support, the money would go from the residential home to the family. Nor did he mention that it is ministry of health policy to encourage community over residential living and that, over time, the fiscal implications of losing the critical mass of demand for residential homes will save significant amounts spent on the administration of such homes.

The government's continual appeals aganst the discrimination decisions has had nothing to do with reducing the cost of support. It has been to prevent losing the savings it has made, discriminating by not paying family members.

Ryall then went on to express concern about the State interfering in family relationships by monitoring the quality of service provision. This is clearly nonsense. Any family member agreeing to be paid would implicitly agree to be monitored, just as a family business would expect a family employee to be subject to performance reviews.

The opposite is actually true — currently unpaid family support goes entirely unscrutinised by the disability support system and leaves disabled people potentially open to abuse and neglect.