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New report outlines residential aged care funding reform options

The release of a new report into aged care funding highlights a range of options to modify Australia’s residential care funding instrument.   
Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, said the Review of the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) would inform the Turnbull Government’s continuing aged care reforms.
“We are determined to put residential care funding on a more consistent, sustainable and equitable footing,” said Minister Wyatt.
“The Commonwealth currently contributes a record $18.6 billion per year to aged care and by 2020-21 this is expected to reach more than $22 billion.
“We are committed to a system centred on safe, quality care for our older Australians, while ensuring expenditure is affordable for consumers and sustainable for taxpayers.” 
The report, prepared by Applied Aged Care Solutions, undertook a comprehensive review of ACFI, focusing on ways to improve the current tool, including adapting it for external assessments of funding needs and updating it to bring it into line with current care practices.
“We welcome the new report on residential aged care funding reform, which adds to the options provided in a recent University of Wollongong report,” Minister Wyatt said.
The Government-commissioned study was released in April this year, outlining a variety of potential new funding models and tools for the aged care sector. 
Minister Wyatt said no decisions had been made, with the next step in the long-term reform process a Resource Utilisation and Classification Study, now underway at the University of Wollongong’s Australian Health Services Research Institute.
This study is investigating the drivers of residential care costs, according to location and the varying needs of individuals in care.
“We will continue to monitor use of the existing Aged Care Funding Instrument to ensure expenditure remains under control, while maintaining quality care,” Minister Wyatt said.
“We are equally committed to continue working with the community and the aged care sector to get these reforms right.”
The report is available on the Department of Health’s website.

Mini Budget Must Not Slug Pensioners

The Council on the Ageing NSW has called for state relief for pensioners as part of the NSW mini-budget. It said pensioners did not need to be slugged again by new state charges or taxes.

Executive director Jon Bisset called on the government to reassure recipients of the federally-funded bonus that they wouldn’t lose it all in increased state costs. He said he supported the Opposition’s call for the State Government to prepare a statement of the economic impact on seniors of its mini-budget.

Opposition spokesman on ageing, Andrew Con stance, said the average state tax bill each year stood at about $2600 per person and seniors in particular could not keep pace with the costs involved. “The upcoming NSW mini-budget must be tested for its im pact on seniors,’’ he said.

“The State Labor Gov ern ment must tread very carefully before applying additional charges to essential services such as transport, insurance, water, electricity and motor vehicle registration, and increasing taxes such as the Country Link pensioner book ing fee and stamp duty on general insurance.

“The social and economic consequences are profound for seniors should the State Government apply broad-based tax hikes without assessing the consequences.”

Mr Bisset said it was time for the whole community to consider the plight of pensioners and to provide relief wherever possible and in a holistic way. “Increasing charges and costs ultimately fall on consumers,” he said.

“State government and local councils are no exception, but we now have to band together as a community and provide relief to the most vulnerable, otherwise a vicious cycle of passing the buck ensues, to the detriment of pensioners.

“We welcome call by the Liberal-National party to the NSW Govern ment to assess the social and economic im pacts of any increases in state taxes and charges on the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“We would hope that in fact the mini-budget will offer greater concessions for pensioners and self-funded retirees so that the pensioner bonus can be used to improve their standard of living, which is what it was meant to do in the first place.”
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