Aged care peak bodies are stepping up their advocacy over more than 18 months of online claiming issues with the Department of Human Services, which one peak says has resulted in millions of dollars in outstanding payments for some providers.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is seeking financial compensation for its members, while Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) is demanding an apology from the Minister for Human Services Marise Payne for the cost and inconvenience caused to providers and clients.

ACSA wrote to Minister Payne on Tuesday to advise that its members continued to experience issues with the DHS online payment and means-testing system and that outstanding amounts owed to individual providers ran from $20,000 to $3 million, with several at the higher end and some dating back to 2013/14.

About 30 per cent of ACSA members are having cash flow problems as a result of the ongoing issues, several reported a significant increase in staff time spent engaging with Medicare to resolve issues, and new reports indicate reconciliation issues, which are further increasing stress among administration staff, according to the letter.

ACSA said the ongoing issues had “serious implications for aged care providers” and listed a three-and-a-half page summary of issues experienced by aged care providers and the subsequent emails and telephone calls needed to resolve issues.

John Kelly
John Kelly

The peak body said it had sent in excess of 500 emails on behalf of members to senior staff in DHS for problem resolution in addition to raising these issues with DSS and Senator Mitch Fifield’s office on several occasions over the past 18 months.

CEO John Kelly asked Minister Payne and her department to work with ACSA to resolve the ongoing issues, to provide debt recovery for outstanding amounts as well as compensation for lost interest and additional staff time.

“ACSA will also be advising members to pursue the assistance of the Commonwealth Ombudsman if the formal complaint and issues are not dealt with in a timely satisfactory manner by DHS,” Adjunct Professor Kelly said in the letter.

Meanwhile, DHS announced on Wednesday that the new Aged Care Online Services platform for home care was available to all home care providers following a pilot involving with several organisations.

LASA CEO Patrick Reid welcomed the launch and encouraged home care providers to use the new system to realise the benefits of streamlined payments and reconciliation.

However, he called on Minister Payne to acknowledge the cost, administration burden, and inconvenience to aged care providers and clients resulting from the ongoing issues, including those with home care payments and means-testing assessments.

Patrick Reid
Patrick Reid

System failures of this scale would not be tolerated in any other industry, Mr Reid said.

“For two years providers have absorbed the cost, time and inconvenience of operating without a functioning claims system.

“The impact of this should not be ignored or under-estimated, and the absence of an apology from the Minister to both providers and their clients is further proof that aged care does not rank highly in this government’s priorities,” Mr Reid said.

Australian Ageing Agenda has sought a response from Minister Payne’s office and an update on system problems from both DHS and DSS.

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3 Comments

  1. Add in My Aged Care and AUSKey to the litany of computerised disasters implemented by the Department.
    Would hate to think of the additional costs being spent on all of these wonderful new systems designed to make life easier for consumers and providers.
    Roll on red tape reduction!

  2. Very Frustrated, this last 12 months or so have been the most stressful chasing payments/ chasing financial assessments/ trying to replace clients/answering questions about lack of availability of Level 3 / 4 services- this list is endless.
    Changing the systems in the real world are quite different to theoretical practice.
    Small organisations are again at a disadvantage in many ways.
    Then when we thought it couldn’t get much worse- the amount of wasted time trying to use and refer people to the My Aged Care ( one person didn’t even know what an ACCR was).
    We are fortunate to have caring and trained staff and continue to provide very good service out there in the community despite all the other obstacles that have been thrown at us.
    This all impacts on staff morale and It appears more and more that Aged care staff are not valued.

  3. Stand-alone regional providers are already at the mercy of whomever deigns to pick up the call at Centrelink…if you can get anyone to respond at all! Likewise the email address serves no purpose whatsoever.
    All of this detracts from our mission to provide the best possible care to our residents!
    We can’t do that if we’re spending countless hours on hold and not getting what we are rightfully owed in critical funding dollars.
    This department appears to answer to no one.
    Can you imagine the uproar if the Tax Office decided to withhold payment of a refund for two years?!

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