I. Portable welfare benefits and elderly services
Residential Care Services Scheme in Guangdong
Mr. CHAN Chunying said that the requirement for Hong Kong elderly people who were public rental housing (“PRH”) tenants to surrender their PRH units or delete their names from the PRH tenancies upon admission to a RCH on the Mainland might be one of the reasons why they were reluctant to participate in the RCS Scheme in Guangdong. Members suggested that a six-month buffer period be introduced to allow the elderly people not to surrender their PRH units during such interim period, so that they can return to live in Hong Kong in case they could not adapt to life in a RCH on the Mainland. LWB responded that those elderly persons who chose to join the Scheme could not retain their existing PRH units. Nevertheless, the Administration would issue a letter of assurance to these elderly persons which would enable them to be re-allocated with a PRH unit more quickly in the event of their return to Hong Kong for good in future. SWD added that for elderly persons who required residential care services after returning to Hong Kong, arrangements could also be made for their admission to a category EA1 home in Hong Kong while waiting for public housing.
II. Medical services
Provision of support for chronic disease patients of the Hospital Authority residing in Guangdong Province
Mr. CHAN Chunying noted that to address the medical needs of chronic disease patients of the Hospital Authority (“HA”) residing in Guangdong Province who were unable to return to Hong Kong for scheduled medical consultations amid the epidemic, the Administration had commissioned the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital (“HKU-SZH”) to provide follow-up consultation services for these patients during the epidemic (“the Special Support Scheme”). In response to Members’suggestion of regularizing the Special Support Scheme, the Health Bureau (“HB”) advised that the Scheme had been extended to 9 November this year in light of the epidemic development, and the Administration would explore further extending the Scheme.
Extension of the scope of application of Hong Kong Elderly Health Care Vouchers
Mr. CHAN Chunying suggested that the scope of application of HCVs should be extended to Hong Kong-funded healthcare institutions in Guangdong Province, including the Health Service Centre for Hong Kong and Macao Residents which opened this year. The voucher amount could also be used to settle medical consultation fees or reimburse medical expenses of Hong Kong residents on the Mainland.
HB explained that the fee charging standards and regulatory models varied among private and public hospitals on the Mainland. HKU-SZH adopted the pricing regime under the nation’s social medical insurance (“medical insurance”) programmes. The extension of the scope of application of HCVs to Mainland private hospitals, if implemented, would involve competition between public and private hospitals on the Mainland. Furthermore, if the scope of application of HCVs was extended to cover inpatient services at Mainland hospitals, the issues involved would be more complicated. Therefore, the Administration would not consider such arrangement at this stage. HB pointed out that it would be difficult for the Administration to provide medical services that meet the expectations of Hong Kong people in all the Mainland cities of GBA given the vast territory covered. It was suggested that Hong Kong people living on the Mainland might take out medical insurance in accordance with the requirements of the respective provinces or municipalities to obtain the local medical protection as appropriate.