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8.7.1 Treatment available under the VEA for eligible MRCA persons
Although the VEA is generally closed off after 1 July 2004, there are five provisions of the VEA that continue to provide treatment entitlements to eligible MRCA persons. A person with MRCA service may be entitled to treatment if they meet the definition of a veteran, as defined in section 5C of the VEA. Section 5C defines a veteran as anybody with eligible war service. Eligible war service is defined in Section 7 and includes, among other things, a person who has rendered operational service. Under section 6F operational service includes warlike or non-warlike service. Therefore anybody who has rendered operational service, irrespective of whether it is only on or after 1 July 2004, can be considered a veteran within the meaning of the VEA and may be eligible to access the treatment provisions of the VEA.
Section 85(2) of the VEA
Section 85(2) of the VEA provides treatment via a White Repatriation Health Card for veterans who are suffering from malignant neoplasia or pulmonary tuberculosis. If a MRCA person has warlike or non-warlike service they also become eligible under this section (unless section 85A or 85B applies, see below).
Section 88A of the VEA
Section 88A provides for the Repatriation Commission to make a determination to provide treatment to a specified class of veterans and/or dependants.
Instrument No. R24/2017, is a Repatriation Commission Determination made under section 88A(1)(a) of the VEA to provide treatment for any mental health condition. Treatment is provided via a DVA Health Card - Specific Conditions (White Card). Section 88A of the VEA was reopened for MRCA persons following Royal Assent of the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Statements of Principles and Other Measures) Bill 2006 on 15 March 2007. Thus, a MRCA person with warlike or non-warlike service is also eligible for treatment under this section.
Note: Treatment is provided under either subsection 85(2) or section 88A irrespective of causality. However, should liability subsequently be admitted under the MRCA, for a condition treated under these provisions, then subsequent treatment should be provided under the MRCA.
Section 85(4B) of the VEA
Section 85(4B) of the VEA provides that a veteran who has rendered qualifying service (warlike service) and is over the age of 70 is eligible to receive a Gold Repatriation Health Card. As the definition of a veteran includes anyone with eligible war service, a MRCA person over the age of 70 who has rendered warlike service on or after 1 July 2004 will be automatically eligible for a Gold Repatriation Health Card under the VEA.
Section 85(7A) of the VEA
A MRCA person who has qualifying (warlike) service on or after 1 July 2004 may be eligible for a service pension under Part III of the VEA. A MRCA person with 30 overall impairment points (which includes any impairment points brought across from the VEA and or the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) via section 13 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 and in receipt of Service Pension is automatically eligible for a Gold Repatriation Health Card under the VEA. However if that person is already receiving treatment via Part 3 of Chapter 6 of the MRCA with a Gold Repatriation Health Card, then treatment continues to be provided under the MRCA. This may be the case for a person who has been assessed with 60 overall impairment points or assessed as eligible for the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP).
Note: The provisions of sections 85(2) and 88A require a VEA delegate to make these decisions. These decisions are made by delegates in the Veterans' Compensation Group. The provisions of section 85(4B) and 85(7A) are automatic provisions that require no formal delegation.
Section 53D of the VEA
Section 53D of the VEA provides that a person who is a veteran or who would be a veteran except that they served with a commonwealth or allied force while domiciled in Australia, and who is receiving an age or invalidity service pension, may be eligible to receive a Gold Card under the VEA if they satisfy the treatment eligibility income and assets test outlined in section 53E of the VEA.
This provision is available to those assessed at below 30 impairment points. However, this provision is expected to be rarely applicable to MRCA persons where incapacity payments and any superannuation benefits will usually combine to mean the person is not receiving age or invalidity service pension.
Section 85A of the VEA and Section 85B of the VEA
The effect of Sections 85A and 85B of the VEA is that where a person is being treated under Part 3 of Chapter 6 (with a Repatriation Health Card) of the MRCA for a service condition or an aggravated injury or disease, all of their treatment for VEA conditions (including their conditions covered by 85(2)) should be provided under the MRCA until treatment for the MRCA service condition ceases. This prevents a person from receiving more than one Repatriation Health Card. However if the person is being treated under Part 2 of Chapter 6 (reimbursement in treatment pathway 1) then treatment under subsections 85(1) and 85(2) of the VEA via a Repatriation Health Card continues.
Former members with pre 1 July 2004 peacetime service who are only covered by the SRCA and those with post 1 July 2004 peacetime service only do not have access to treatment under the VEA, as they do not meet the definition of veteran in section 5C of the VEA.
In summary, MRCA persons (with service on and after 1 July 2004) still have access to treatment via subsection 85(2) and 88A if they have operational service (irrespective of whether that operational service is only on or after 1 July 2004) because they meet the definition of veteran in the VEA.
Eligibility for treatment via subsections 53D, 85(4B) and 85(7A) of the VEA also continues for those MRCA persons with qualifying (warlike) service on and after 1 July 2004.
Delegates need to ensure that a person only has one Repatriation Health Card.