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Ley, Wyatt retain health and aged care in new ministerial line-up


Aged care stakeholders have welcomed the reappointment of Sussan Ley as Minister for Aged Care and Ken Wyatt as Assistant Minister, saying it provides continuity for the next stage of reforms.

But providers have also told the government that a greater level of engagement and cooperation with the sector is now needed, as issues around aged care funding remain high on the agenda.

Last week providers, consumers and unions told the re-elected Coalition Government they were united on the further reforms needed to aged care and initial steps must be contained in the next budget.

As Australian Ageing Agenda reported, the stakeholders also called on the Coalition to release the modelling underpinning the controversial budget changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument and work with providers to mitigate the impacts.

On Monday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his cabinet and full ministry list. The only change to the health and aged care team saw Dr David Gillespie take over from Fiona Nash as Assistant Minister for Rural Health.

Yesterday Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) welcomed the re-appointment of Ms Ley and Mr Wyatt, saying it provided continuity during a time of intense reform to aged care.

But the peak body also called on Ms Ley to work cooperatively with the industry, the newly elected minor parties, independents and crossbenchers who had committed to addressing aged care funding issues during the election.

“This must include an urgent review of ACFI and the $1.8 billion in funding cuts that were announced in the last Budget,” said LASA chief executive officer Sean Rooney.

Similarly, Labor said that Ms Ley should release the government’s Budget modelling behind the changes to ACFI.

“Analyses undertaken by a number of aged care stakeholders indicate the cuts will be much higher than the Budget figures indicate,” said Labor’s spokesperson on ageing Shayne Neumann.

Elsewhere, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) said it looked forward to working with Ms Ley to ensure there was sufficient investment in palliative care and end-of-life care.

“The Coalition must make palliative care a priority,” said PCA president Ms Patsy Yates.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said Ms Ley’s continued commitment to tackling the growing burden of chronic disease through initiatives such as Health Care Homes would be very important for people with dementia and their carers.

Mr Wyatt had also demonstrated he was committed to improving dementia care, particularly in rural and remote areas of Australia, Ms Bennett added.

Commenting on her re-appointment, Ms Ley said the Coalition Government had a “bold and ambitious health reform agenda” which included reforms to aged care. “I am passionate about ensuring Australians don’t just live longer lives, but healthier ones too.”

But she added that the government also had to ensure “every taxpayer dollar spent on health lands as close to the patient as possible.”

“A failure to ensure our national health spend is efficient will ultimately fail the patients who need it most,” Ms Ley said.

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