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Funding a top aged care budget priority


Aged care providers are calling on the Federal Government to adopt the recommendations of the Tune Review in this year’s Budget, submissions show.

But they have also urged Canberra to ignore the recommendations outlined in the Rosewarne report into the sector’s funding tool.

In its December mid-year budget update the government flagged it would respond to last year’s review of aged care by David Tune in the 2018-19 Budget to be handed down in May.

Provider peaks including the Aged Care Guild, Leading Age Services Australia, Aged and Community Services Australia and Catholic Health Australia have again called for a sustainable funding plan for residential care, with particular emphasis on Tune’s proposals to increase so-called user contributions from seniors with financial means.

All of the peaks support the recommendations to allow providers to charge a higher daily fee to wealthier seniors, although CHA, which represents the network of Catholic aged care organisations, argued the higher fee should still be capped.

“Catholic Healthy Australia’s view is that increased care contribution by those who can afford to pay should be introduced in conjunction with measures to improve consumer choice and control of aged care services,” it said in its submission to Treasury.

Even though the government has already ruled out Tune’s recommendations to include the full value of an older person’s house in residential care means-testing and to abolish annual and lifetime caps on fees across residential and home care, the guild, LASA and ACSA called for a review of existing measures.

“Government cannot afford to subsidise the provision of residential aged care for consumers without asking consumers to more fully meet the costs of their care, where they have the means to do so,” the guild wrote in its submission.

Anglicare, which represents a network of over 40 local, state, national and international organisations linked to the Anglican Church, urged the government to accept the recommendations or else make a substantially greater funding commitment to aged care in order to meet a growing level of demand.

“Financial sustainability for providers underwrites their capacity to provide high quality care for people regardless of their background or circumstances,” Anglicare said.

The guild, which represents nine large private residential providers, called for a government response to the Aged Care Roadmap, which was released in April 2016, along with a commitment it won’t introduce “any specific or realised reductions in aged care expenditure” in the budget.

LASA has called for a range of immediate “targeted interim supports” under the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) to ensure sustainability.

Among those is the reversal of indexation pauses applied from 2017-18 and the reinstatement of the Payroll Tax Supplement, which was stopped for some residential aged care providers since 1 January 2015.

LASA also asked government to reject the measures proposed by Richard Rosewarne in the government-commissioned review of ACFI.

In the final report, Dr Rosewarne proposed a revised tool with fewer and simpler questions, a new therapy program for pain management and external assessment options.

“… the Rosewarne proposal for amendments to ACFI should be set aside, noting the negative impact of provider sustainability that this would entail,” LASA wrote in its submission.

To inform changes to ACFI, LASA instead wants government to wait for the outcome of the Resource Utilisation and Classification Study, which is due to report in the second half of this year.

ACSA called for no changes to ACFI without consultation and pilots “to ensure the impacts on quality of care for residents and provider sustainability are understood.”

For regional and remote services, ACSA called on government to actively explore funding models to ensure providers remain viable and sustainable in a more consumer driven and market based system.

Related coverage

Home care waitlist should be budget priority: providers

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