New funding model the Australian National Aged Care Classification has come into play this month.
Through an online Aged Care Alert, the Department of Health and Aged Care has advised that: “Providers should ensure they understand the AN-ACC care funding model and its impact on their future funding. This can be done by accessing resources available on the residential aged care funding reform webpages.”
A Schedule of Subsidies and Supplements has been updated to reflect the changes due to the 1 October introduction of AN-ACC, which replaces the Aged Care Funding Instrument 14-and-a-half years after its introduction.
Providers can access an AN-ACC guide that contains information on how they can receive AN-ACC subsidies, including relevant compliance requirements that may apply.
The updates impact residential aged care homes only; there is no change to home care subsidies and supplements.
In March, the 2022-23 federal budget revealed a starting price of $216.80 for a standard day of care with average resident funding expected to be approximately $225 a day.
Under AN-ACC, providers have been told average resident funding is approximately $22 more than the last average subsidy under the ACFI – in part to pay for the mandatory 200 minutes of care time per resident per day which commences from 1 October 2023.
A quarterly review of residential aged care fees will take place on 15 October 2022. “This process enables care recipients’ fees to be set to align with any changes in their financial circumstances and/or their cost of care. Care recipients and providers will receive letters letting them know if there is a change to fees or if a refund may be due,” read the department’s alert.
The department has said additional service fees can be charged by facilities for “services you are not otherwise required to provide, such as hairdressing and pay TV.”
The introduction of AN-ACC has not changed the aged care means assessment, which determines:
- resident eligibility for government assistance with accommodation costs, and any payable contributions
- the payable means test fee.
A resident’s means-tested care fee continues to be limited by the cost of their care, as determined by their adjusted basic subsidy and primary payments.
Concern and confusion
AN-ACC aims to provide more equitable care funding to providers that better matches residents’ needs with the cost of delivering care. It involves independent assessors classifying residents into one of 13 categories using the AN-ACC assessment tool, which considers physical ability, cognitive ability, behaviour and mental health.
However, since its inception, AN-ACC has caused concern and confusion. In February, according to a report from aged care consultants Mirus Australia, providers were ill-prepared for the new funding tool and pessimistic about maintaining current funding levels and the readiness of information systems.
The funding model has also received criticism from allied health organisations. Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda in May, Australian Physiotherapy Association gerontology group national chair Joanna Tan said : “The AN-ACC funding model for residential aged care services does not specify how residential facilities spend the money allocated for each resident. Without certainty of funding, residential facilities are looking to reduce allied health services to save money.”
To help residential aged care providers transition to AN-ACC, the following functions are available through the My Aged Care Service and Support Portal:
- request a classification for a respite resident if their care needs have changed
- request a reconsideration of an initial AN-ACC classification or reclassification decision.
Providers can also email any queries to ACFR@health.gov.au