Home care providers will be required to publish on My Aged Care all administration charges to be deducted from any future unspent funds should a client switch providers or permanently leave their package.
The proposal for increased transparency for consumers is contained in legislation introduced into Parliament this month as part of the government’s reforms to home care, as announced in last year’s budget.
The government said all charges must be set out in a Home Care Agreement offered to the consumer and be published on My Aged Care.
Providers will also be required to disclose to consumers minimum contractual periods and required notice to leave a package, according to the bill.
The government is not proposing to regulate admin charges, minimum contract periods or notice requirements, but said it will closely monitor practice in this area.
“If there is evidence that restrictive conditions are being included in Home Care Agreements, it would be open to the government to more actively regulate in this area in the future,” it said.
Unspent home care package funds will move with the consumer if they change home care providers. When a person permanently leaves their package, for example if a client moves into residential care, unspent funds must be returned to the consumer (or their estate) and the government.
This will represent a significant change for providers which have been allowed to retain unspent funds in the past.
Providers will be responsible for calculating the proportion of the consumer and Commonwealth contributions to be returned.
There was a mix of views within the sector as to what should happen to unspent funds where a consumer permanently leaves home care, and different policy options were canvassed by government in its discussion paper.
As flagged in the government’s consultation, the legislation proposes:
- removal of Aged Care Approvals Round for home care places
- packages allocated to consumers
- a nationally consistent approach to prioritising access to home care
- portability of packages
- a simplified process for becoming an approved provider.
This bill makes amendments to the Aged Care Act and the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act. The government has committed $73 million over four years to implement the changes from February 2017.
For more information on the legislative changes visit the parliament’s website.
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