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Health chief visits Eastern Hospital

Secretary for Health Prof Lo Chung-mau today visited Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital to get an update on the service of public hospitals.        He toured the hospital’s specialist outpatient clinic, medical ward, accident and emergency department and hyperbaric oxygen therapy centre, followed by a meeting with its management and frontline healthcare staff to learn about the service demands and manpower deployment.        Prof Lo said: "Having gone through the anti-epidemic work in the past three years, Hong Kong is on the road to full normalcy. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all healthcare staff for their efforts in performing duties and working tirelessly amidst immense work pressure to safeguard the city's healthcare system.”            Noting that Hong Kong will see a sharp rise in the number of travellers with the full resumption of normal travel with the Mainland, Prof Lo said the Government will closely monitor the development of the CO

2 care fund proposals endorsed

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung chaired the third meeting of the fourth-term Commission on Poverty held online today, in which two proposals on the Community Care Fund (CCF) were endorsed.   At the meeting, members also noted the implementation progress of various assistance programmes under the fund and its financial position.   One of the endorsed proposals is to further refine the means test mechanism of the CCF Medical Assistance Programmes following the announcement in the 2020 Policy Address.   The refinements, to be rolled out in the second quarter, include modification of the calculation of annual disposable financial resources for recurrent applications and the addition of new allowable deduction items for all drug subsidy applications.   Meanwhile, the validity period of the first application's financial assessment will be extended from 12 months to 18 months if the patient contribution is not more than $2,000. Patients will make the same amount of contribution upon annual renewal of the application without the need for financial assessment.   If patients consider that there is a need for financial reassessment due to the change in financial condition of their households, they could make such a request anytime during the application period.   Additionally, the Hospital Authority will waive the requirement to submit financial documents if the patient has been referred a second application within one to two months after the first application.   The second proposal involves additional funding for the One-off Living Subsidy for Low-income Households Not Living in Public Housing & Not Receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) programme.   The commission earlier endorsed a provision of $2.56 billion under the CCF to introduce two rounds of the subsidy.   Owing to the impact of social unrest and the COVID-19 epidemic, Hong Kong's economy has been deteriorating and the unemployment and underemployment rates remain high. The number of applications for the first round of the subsidy is projected to exceed the estimate by about 20%.   The CCF secretariat estimated that the number of applications received under the second round of the subsidy would increase by 40% compared to the first round.   To cater for the projected additional beneficiary households, the commission endorsed an additional provision of $571.83 million which includes an additional funding of $34.46 million for administrative fees, bringing the total estimated expenditure for the two rounds of the subsidy to about $3.13 billion.   Members were also briefed on the proposed measures to further assist individuals and families in financial need, including the reduction of the Working Family Allowance Scheme's working hour requirements and relaxation of the Short-term Food Assistance Services Project's asset limits, both of which were on a time-limited basis.
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