Taskforce to consider all funding options, says minister

New taxes and greater contributions from those who can afford to pay for care are up for discussion.

New taxes and greater contributions from those who can afford to pay will be among the options on the table when the new aged care taskforce begins discussing how to better fund the aged care system later this month.

Speaking in Canberra at the National Press Club of Australia Wednesday, Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells – who will chair the taskforce – said it would consider all funding scenarios. “I’m bringing as the chair an open mind to the deliberations of the taskforce,” she said. “I think we should keep as many options open and the taskforce should work through them.”

She said the taskforce was needed as the royal commission’s “great unanswered question” remains – “how to make aged care equitable and sustainable into the future.”

The royal commission failed to reach an agreement as to which funding model should be adopted. One commissioner recommended a levy, another co-contributions. “The commissioners couldn’t agree on a prescriptive pathway forward,” said Ms Wells. “We need to agree on this now.”

Both propositions would be up for debate, she said. “I would have thought recommendations from the two commissioners would be something for the taskforce to consider.”

In last month’s federal budget, $700,000 was earmarked for an aged care taskforce to review the funding arrangements of the aged care sector and to oversee the final design of the new in-home care program.

The taskforce will meet monthly until October when the interim report will be handed down before the final report is delivered to government in December.

Ms Wells – the first-ever aged care minister to address the press club in its 60-year history – also revealed the names of the members of the taskforce who will, she said, “have expertise in economics, finance, public policy, ageing and aged care, First Nations and consumer advocacy and provider advocacy.”

The members are:

  • Mike Baird
  • Professor Tom Calma
  • Grant Corderoy
  • Rosemary Huxtable
  • Professor John McCallum
  • Mary Patetsos
  • Nigel Ray
  • Patricia Sparrow
  • Tom Symondson
  • Margaret Walsh
  • John Watkins
  • Janine Walker
  • Thomas Walker.

“The taskforce will also include strong union representation to ensure the views of workers are heard,” added Ms Wells.

There would be, said Ms Wells, a complete overall of the funding system. “We are not taking a patch and paint approach to this process.”

Ms Wells said government had listened to the sector, the workers – and older people. “We know that those people choosing residential care is trending down as the desire to stay and age at home trends upwards.”

The new funding model will deliver the care people are requesting, said Ms Wells. “This is about the government investing in the care that older Australians actually want – and they want to be at home.”

“The baby boomers are coming.”

Ms Wells said the time to act is now. “The baby boomers are coming. Within a decade, our nation will have, for the first time in history, more people over 65 than under 18.”

The aged care system will need to transform to meet the boomers’ expectations, said Ms Wells. “The next generation of people entering aged care are going to want a different model and standard of care than those before them … They rightly believe that aged care can offer much more than it has.”

To help the sector navigate the changes ahead, Ms Wells revealed the government’s reform roadmap. “You have been calling for it. I have listened. We have delivered,” she said.

Ms Wells concluded her 30-minute speech by saying the government’s reform agenda had been born out of necessity. “We are bringing aged care back from the brink – and it’s about damned time.”

Watch the full address here:

Main image: Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells addressing the National Press Club

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Tags: aged care taskforce, anika wells, featured, national press club,

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