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Sector warns against cherry-picking of reform measures

Provider and consumer peaks are urging the Federal Government to consider the recommendations of the Tune Review as a whole and avoid picking individual proposals to implement.

David Tune

The final report of David Tune’s legislated review into the Living Longer Living Better reforms included 38 recommendations to further the reform process (read our story here).

Two of which the government ruled out when it tabled the report in parliament last week drawing universal condemnation from the breadth of aged care stakeholders for not first consulting on the recommendations relating to increasing user contributions (read our story here).

Provider and consumer peak bodies are calling for continued consultation and the whole suite of recommendations to be considered together.

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said action needed to be taken that would further the directions in the Aged Care Sector Committee’s roadmap for reform.

“The legislated review presents a wide range of recommendations that need to be considered as a whole rather than picking one or two that require immediate implementation,” Ms Sparrow told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“What’s important now is that there is debate and discussion about what that action needs to be between government, the industry and the broader community.”

Similarly, Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said government’s move to rule out two recommendations early shut down a much-needed conversation.

Ian Yates

“The report should be read as an integrated suite of actions that support progressing the reform agenda and ensuring Australia has a fit-for-purpose aged care system,” Mr Rooney told AAA.

Ian Yates, chief executive with seniors advocacy organisation COTA Australia agreed saying there “was a real danger in picking one recommendation” because this integrated set of recommendations was designed to fundamentally change the aged care sector.

“To create the new system government must implement at least all the structural recommendations,” Mr Yates told AAA.

“It has been a failure to understand this that has led to the reform impasse we have found ourselves in up to this review.”

Residential needs financial security

(From left:) Pat Sparrow, Cameron O’Reilly, Sean Rooney

Provider peaks agree that implementing measures that ensure the financial sustainability of residential aged care are crucial.

Aged Care Guild CEO Cameron O’Reilly said the recommendation calling for a requirement for providers to charge residents a minimum basic daily fee while allowing them to charge a higher fee to non-low means residents should be a high priority for the government.

Given the funding cuts to aged care, and a rejection of Tune’s recommendations around means testing then the focus will need to be on the daily care fee for those residents with the means to support and contribute to their own care,” Mr O’Reilly told AAA.

Mr Rooney said allowing providers to charge a higher basic daily fee “may assist with sector sustainability” but that there needed to be provider and consumer input on the measure.

He reiterated his disappointment that government ruled out changes to the means test involving the family home and abolishing annual and life time caps on fees considering a key issue raised by Mr Tune was how forecasted increases in demand for aged care would be financed and the costs shared.

“A longer-term funding sustainability approach is required. Industry and government need to work together on this, potentially through the new Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet taskforce announced at the release of the Tune Review that is looking at [ageing] issues generally,” Mr Rooney said.

Ms Sparrow said ensuring that funding for residential aged care was certain and sustainable was critical.

“Implementing recommendations that create greater sustainability, through both the public and private sources, are the top priority for implementation,” she said.

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