Aged care provider peak bodies and consumer representatives welcome government adjustments to aged care funding changes but say the saga highlights the urgency of developing a new funding model.
There was relief among aged care providers yesterday when news filtered out that some of what they perceived as the more draconian measures to change aged care funding in the government’s May budget were being dropped.
But some continue to stridently oppose the $1.2 billion in reduced funding over four years which remain in place.
All agree the six-month saga over the changes outlined in the May budget highlights the urgent need for sustainable funding model for aged care.
- What did the government announce? Read AAA’s story on the latest changes
Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) welcomed the government’s changes to its budget measures, saying it had made significant representations to MPs after financial modelling showed the changes could deliver a funding reduction of 11 per cent.
The peak body representing not-for-profit providers also welcomed the increase to the rural and remote viability supplement.
ACSA president Paul Sadler said the ACFI changes should be closely monitored and reviewed after 12 months.
“ACSA is now also focused on the examination of a new aged care funding and assessment model that will ensure quality of services and provider viability,” he said.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), representing for-profit and not-for-profit providers, said it was pleased the government had mitigated some of the impact of its budget measures.
But it criticised the government for continuing with the $1.2 billion in reduced funding for the sector.
CEO Sean Rooney said the government and the industry needed to continue to work together to develop a sustainable funding strategy rather than “tinker at the edges”.
Similarly the Aged Care Guild, which represents major for-profit providers, welcomed the announcement but said it did not negate the need for “a long term, bipartisan funding strategy.”
“The guild and other parts of the sector have for some time been calling for the government to address the concerns of the industry regarding consecutive cuts to the ACFI and to commit to a long-term funding strategy,” said CEO Cameron O’Reilly.
“We want to work with both sides of the parliament to secure an outcome that will provide certainty in funding and ensure continued investment in high quality aged care.”
Council on the Ageing Australia chief executive Ian Yates said the announcement showed the government is willing to listen to consumer advocates and sector experts.
The initial budget measures would have had unintended consequences for some providers caring for residents with complex care needs, he said.
The adjustments to the policy mean those risks have been addressed while the government proceeds with a process of reviewing the ACFI and the assessment process, in consultation with the sector, Mr Yates said.
“Aged care providers now need to respond to the decision by working in partnership with government in both ACFI claiming behaviours and cooperation with the assessment review. Providers acting in a confrontational way with government will only result in negative outcomes for consumers,” he said.
Julie Collins, shadow minister for ageing, said the changes were a welcome short-term retrieve but the “case for a meaningful review and genuine reform” of aged care funding was clear.
“The proposed increase to the viability supplement for regional aged care facilities, although welcome, is a clear move to stifle the growing number of dissident National MPs and Senators,” she said.
“It is disappointing that these changes have been driven by unrest between the Liberal and National parties, rather than the care needs of older Australians.”
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the changes were a step in the right direction but argued a Senate inquiry to investigate the cuts was still needed.
Senator Siewert has repeatedly put forward a motion to refer the cuts to a Senate inquiry, which both Labor and the Coalition have voted against.
“I hope both the old parties acknowledge that these changes need further scrutiny. There is still $1.6 billion in cuts to the aged care sector on the table,” she said.
Related AAA coverage: Aged care funding: Government compromises on budget’s ACFI changes
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