PAP Seniors Group issues Budget wish list

AN advocacy group under the People's Action Party (PAP) has submitted a set of recommendations for the March 24 Budget to the Finance Ministry. The PAP Seniors Group (PAP.SG), chaired by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, also wants the Health Ministry to consider the list of three recommendations.

These are: to review the existing ElderShield Scheme; provide greater support for caregivers; and strengthen the Singaporean core in the intermediate and long-term care (ILTC) sector.

In a statement, the group noted that Singapore is facing an ageing population and there is a need to do more to help those suffering from severe age-old disabilities, and their families as well.

For ElderShield, which provides basic protection for those aged 40 and above with severe age-old disability, PAP.SG suggests that the scheme be made compulsory with affordable premiums.

It also wants to remove the age limit of 70 and the exclusion of those with pre-existing illnesses, similar to how it's done with the new MediShield Life scheme. This would ensure that long-term financing for eldercare services will be affordable for lower and middle-income Singaporeans.

PAP.SG also suggested that payouts be indexed to inflation and reviewed regularly to ensure that they keep up with the rising cost of long-term care. Also, the payout period should be extended from the current six years to the end of life of the beneficiary, or "for a more reasonable period" so as to keep pace with increased longevity.

As for better support for caregivers, PAP.SG called on the government to consider giving them incentives, either monetary or through top-ups to their Medisave or Retirement Accounts, with a special caregiver grant in recognition of their effort and contribution.

This, said the group, would instill greater confidence in caregivers that their basic future needs will be partially taken care of.

Turning to the ILTC sector, PAP.SG noted the Health Ministry's projection that the manpower needed would grow to about 15,000 people by 2020. This would mean a higher demand for nurses, therapists and medical social workers.

The government could improve the situation through measures such as job redesign, training, better pay and career progression paths in order to develop a strong Singaporean core in ILTC, said the group.

This article was first published on March 11, 2016.
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Budget 2016