Monday 16 January 2012

Healthcare scheme gets new lease of life - Primary Care Partnership Scheme renamed CHAS from 15 Jan 2012

Name change and 4,900 applicants join successfully 
By Tan Weizhen, TODAY, 16 Jan 2012

Amid the Government's renewed push to create awareness of the enhanced Primary Care Partnership Scheme (PCPS) - which underwent a name change yesterday - 5,300 residents have applied to join the scheme since applications for the reworked scheme opened on Dec 22.

According to Ministry of Health (MOH) statistics, the figure - spanning a period of three weeks - is twice the monthly average.

The scheme was officially launched yesterday with a new name: The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to Chua Chu Kang Community Club where residents were encouraged to sign up for the scheme, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "To the residents, (the term PCPS) is not very meaningful. Not just residents, some MPs have feedback to me ... (that) actually it's quite difficult to understand what PCPS was about."

The new name "will reflect better what the scheme actually does", Mr Gan noted.

He added: "So words like 'assist' is important because it actually assists patients to have access to care; 'community' is important because this is meant for community healthcare."

According to Mr Gan, the MOH had been thinking about a name change since it announced the enhancement last August.

Out of the 5,300 residents who have applied to join the enhanced scheme, 4,900 were successful as the remaining 400 did not meet the criteria.

The CHAS allows needy elderly patients and those on the Public Assistance scheme to receive subsidised outpatient care through their neighbourhood general practitioners or dental clinics. In August, the Government expanded the scheme, with the qualifying age lowered from 65 to 40 and the income ceiling raised from S$800 to S$1,500 per capita.

The MOH will continue to look at ways to help general practitioners simplify the administrative processes involved in the scheme.

Efforts to promote the scheme to GPs and dental clinics appear to have paid off: In the last three weeks, 58 GPs and 25 dental clinics joined the scheme, compared to 31 and 20, respectively, which joined between Aug 1 and Dec 21, according to the MOH.

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