ACFI on the airwaves

Want to read what was said in yesterday’s ‘ACFI’ 891 ABC Adelaide interview between CEO of ACAA-SA, Paul Carberry, and the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler? AAA has published the transcript for you.

Below is a transcript of the interview about recent changes to the ACFI between CEO of ACAA-SA, Paul Carberry, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler and journalist, Ian Henschke, on 891 ABC Adelaide yesterday morning.

IAN HENSCHKE: Just before the news headlines, we were talking to Paul Carberry, chief executive officer of the Aged Care Association of South Australia, about his open letter to the Prime Minister on the cuts for the elderly.

Well, Mark Butler is the Minister for Ageing, the federal Minister for Ageing, and joins us on the line now. Mark Butler, Paul Carberry’s pretty angry about what’s happening in the aged care sector. You’ve been on this program saying that you’re supporting the sector. It doesn’t seem to be what the aged care sector is hearing.

MARK BUTLER: Good morning, Ian. Well, we’re getting pretty used to scare campaigns at the moment in Canberra, but this is the first campaign of this type I’ve seen in aged care. I have to say, I’m looking at the budget papers in front of me. They show a $310 million increase in residential care subsidies, a 3.5 per cent increase. So where Paul Carberry has got his $500 million cut figure from, I have no idea. He is not looking at the Commonwealth budget papers.

And that comes on the back of increases over the last five years of around 70 per cent to the aged care budget. Now, there have been some changes that we’re making to the funding instrument. They’re changes that we’ve been working through with the sector now since November or December last year. And Paul Carberry and others in his position should know exactly why we are doing that.

About four years ago, we introduced a new funding system for aged care which much better reflected the high care needs that most residents have today. And what that led to was an increase in real terms, so above indexation, of about 30 per cent per resident in Commonwealth funding.

IAN HENSCHKE: Well, I’m confused now because I’ve just heard Paul Carberry, before the news, saying that people are worse off, and you’re saying that they’re better off. I mean, if you’re listening to…

MARK BUTLER: Well, they are. They’re far better off. The budget papers just show it in black and white – a 30 per cent increase in real terms. But what was always understood when we did that was that that big increase was effectively a catch up increase, reflecting the fact that the old funding system before 2008 didn’t deal with people’s high care needs enough.

Now, what we found late last year, and I talked about this a couple of times then, is that the growth in subsidies per resident, that was always agreed with the sector would taper off after four years and return to its historical growth rate, wasn’t tapering off. And furthermore, what emerged was that that continual increase in subsidies was not being shared equitably across the sector, that there were particular providers in the sector who were continuing to charge fees which I think were broadly understood to be unusual claiming, and frankly, a lot of that was in South Australia.

IAN HENSCHKE: Okay. Well, Paul Carberry has been listening to that. Paul Carberry, the Minister takes a complete different [indistinct]…

PAUL CARBERRY: [indistinct] $500 million, Ian, first. This is a figure that was given to the industry leaders, who were in discussions and negotiations with the Department of Health and Ageing. This was a figure that was ten times more than was revealed in the policy papers that were announced in April. This is a figure that has been used by various spokespeople. It’s a figure that was quoted in The Australian by Brendan Earle. It’s a figure that was also quoted by other journalists.

If the Minister disagrees with the figure, then he should detail the basis of his disagreement and not just tell me that I’ve got it wrong. I’ve got [indistinct]…

IAN HENSCHKE: All right. Well, let’s go back to the Minister because we’ll have to wrap this discussion. It sounds like the two of you need to have a one-on-one meeting at some stage…

MARK BUTLER: Well, my advice – because I deal with Paul’s national equivalent almost every week at the moment [indistinct]…

PAUL CARBERRY: And who, Minister – Rod Young is one of the people who has quoted that figure, as you would know.

MARK BUTLER: Well, my advice to Paul is to flick the budget papers open and to have a look at exactly what we’ve been doing over the last six months because the budget papers very clearly show a $310 million increase in residential care subsidies.

PAUL CARBERRY: Yes, and the budget papers…

MARK BUTLER: And the arrangement…

PAUL CARBERRY: The budget papers on the forward estimates are what this claw back is trying to correct. We know they’re in the budget papers and we know that this change to the rules is intended to reduce the forward estimates to a much lower figure…

MARK BUTLER: Well, that’s not right at all. That’s just not right at all.

IAN HENSCHKE: Well, look, we’ll have…

MARK BUTLER: It’s complete fiction.  

IAN HENSCHKE: We’ll have to leave it there, gentlemen. I don’t know that we’re any wiser, but I do appreciate both of your time this morning, Mark Butler, Minister for Ageing, and Paul Carberry, chief executive of Aged Care in South Australia.
The aged care issue, of course, one of the ones in the budget. Other matters in the budget will be looked at in a moment, when we talk to Peter Martin(*)…..


Tags: abc, acaa-sa, acfi, henscheke, mark-butler,

6 thoughts on “ACFI on the airwaves

  1. Paul Carberry is either being led astray by his colleagues or is being naively mischievous. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that the $500m or so figure is the reduction required to reduce the current 5.9% real average increase pa to the Government’s target of average 2.7% real growth. ACFI funding grew by about 12% in 2011-12, or just under $1b billion. Do some homework instead of scaring the living daylights out of the oldies.

  2. There is a more important question that should be discussed here. Both the Minister and Carberry are right in their own terms; there is an increase in residential care funding in the budget and it is $310m. More than many areas of service received. It is less than it might have been if the Government hadn’t acted to curb what it regards as excessive claiming, by $500m. The real question should be: Is it enough to meet the needs of older people receiving care? That strikes me as a more constructive focus in the context of a major aged care reform program that includes a pricing agency.

  3. Spot on Greg Mundy. The ACFI is not the problem, it’s just an assessment tool. The best way to address the current situation is concerted advocacy for an independent and transparent cost of care study so that prices reflect the cost of care. This should be a number one priority for the pricing agency, and the Minister should move quickly to give the agency the authority to proceed with the study.

  4. At the very core we have a funding system that bears absolutely no relevance to the needs of older Australians nor the real cost of delivering that care. The Minister can quote macro figures until the figurative “cows come home” however what did not appear in the budget papers, nor the LLLB papers, was the $ 432m being extracted from funding in 2012 / 2013 (in addition to the $ 50m declared). Leaving that small fact aside, if this Minister, who to all intents and purposes appears to “understand” the industry, really wants to make a difference, why not initiate an independent “cost of care study”? If there is genuine interest in taking care of older Australians on the part of this or the alternative Government, let’s all get onto the same page in terms of costs, rather than scramble over the crumbs that fall off the Treasury table.

  5. Smoke and mirrors has once again been used to sell a reform package for the aged care industry that remains so shallow. With a rapidly ageing population, of course it is going to cost more as the numbers of care recipients increase and the fact that they are increasingly accessing residential care at life’s end basically means the Gov’t has to increase the funds.
    As Greg Mundy suggests, The real question should be: Is it enough to meet the needs of older people receiving care? With the $500K ACFI claw back the answer is definitely “No” Bad advice, bad decision.

  6. Well done Paul Carberry. Good to see the two croweaters arc up on the Gillard Governments 500 million savage cut to funding weeks out from a new financial year. Its an issue that is not going to go away.

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