Subsidies stopped for patient who crowdfunded

I refer to the article “Subsidies stopped for patient who raised $900k” (Straits Times, Jul 29).

Turn to government aid schemes first

It states that “While Ms Tam managed to raise substantial funds online, social workers said people caught in financial emergencies should still turn to government aid schemes first, and warned that crowdfunding has its risks for donors and fund-raisers.”

How much assistance was she getting?

As to “In her posts on crowdfunding pages, she said she had sold off all that she could sell in her two-room flat, and also skipped meals so her son could have proper meals” – since she was on ComCare assistance – why not tell us how much assistance she was getting?

Required drugs not covered by Medifund?

With regard to “She also said that the immunotherapy she needed was not covered by Medifund or other subsidy schemes. Generally, a dose is required every 21 days, and costs about $6,000.

The National University Cancer Institute said that due to patient confidentiality, it is unable to reveal what treatments Ms Tam was receiving Medifund subsidies for” – since there is no denial – it may only be true that her medicine was not covered by Medifund or other subsidy schemes.

Why is it that Medifund as I understand it – does not cover many drugs that are the standard medical treatment required?

Crowdfund or die?

Thus, what choice did Ms Tam have – other than to turn to crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding not good for the charity sector?

With regard to “They said crowdfunding may not bode well for the charity sector in the long run.

Tell MPs not to compete for charity dollars too?

AMKFSC Community Services chief executive Vincent Ng said the growing trend of crowdfunding has made it challenging for charities. “Everyone is chasing after the same charity dollar. Sometimes, crowdfunding generates so much money, while donation drives that are rigorously planned don’t get as much support,” Dr Ng said” – perhaps this should also be directed to Members of Parliament (MPs) whom a few years ago – started raising funds for their own Community Development Centres (CDCs) in competition for limited charity dollars.

Sometimes, crowdfunding is the only hope?

As to “Said Ms Rachel Lee, a principal social worker at Fei Yue Family Service Centre: “If people meet the criteria for subsidy schemes, they should apply to those first. Crowdfunding is not a guaranteed way of amassing large sums, as different stories appeal to different people” – often the application process may take too long,the situation is so dire and urgent, or there are no help schemes available, that crowdfunding may be the only avenue of hope.

2 examples of recent crowdfunding in desperation?

For example, the two crowdfunding last week – Jeanne-Ten who had to pay $5,000 in court fees or terminate her 12-year battle to get a public university to award her degree, because she alleged that it was due to her complaints against her supervisor; and human rights lawyer M Ravi whose 3-room HDB flat was foreclosed on 17 July by the bank mortgagee for arrears of $7,452.

Crowdfunding platforms should “provide holistic care”?

In respect of “Mr Gerard Ee, a veteran in the charity sector, suggested crowdfunding platforms do more to validate the authenticity of appeals and “provide holistic care”.

“If something happens to Ms Tam later on, and her son is just five years old, who is going to manage the money? Who can help to place the money in a trust and ensure that the son is not left in the lurch?” – what has crowdfunding got to do with “provide holistic care”?

SNTC can help?

Ms Tam can also go to the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) for advice and assistance as to how to provide for her son, in the event of her death.

Leong Sze Hian

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