The coalition behind the Campaign for Care of Older Australians has stepped up its lobbying efforts with a letter to the Prime Minister.

The document urges Kevin Rudd to ensure that aged care is a fundamental component of his health reform plans.

The coalition called on the government to boost the sustainability of aged care services to improve client care and ease the pressure on the public health system.

“Ready access to such services would help reduce emergency department presentations and unnecessary hospital admissions, as well as the number of older people inappropriately occupying expensive acute care beds,” the letter said.

“Viewed in this light, aged care should become a tangible response to, and illustration of the benefits of, the allocative efficiency principles which underpin the proposed health reforms.”

The letter endorsed a suite of reform proposals aimed at improving consumer choice.

It said the current allocations system should be replaced and that aged care should be delivered as an entitlement to people with assessed needs.

The group believes older consumers with the capacity to contribute to the cost of their care and accommodation should be encouraged to pay more, while special needs groups would continue to be supported by a rigorous safety net.

The coalition also described the consolidation of all aged care programs under the Commonwealth as a “necessary precondition for effective reform”.

“We are mindful that while these reforms involve a significant change to current arrangements and present some risks in their implementation, they are necessary if we are to effectively and sustainably care for and support the current and future generations of older Australians,” the letter said.

“As a group we will be advocating widely for these reforms. We would encourage you to pursue these reforms and assure you of our resolve to support their phased implementation.”

The members of the coalition include Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), Catholic Health and nine church and charitable aged care organisations.

Earlier this month the coalition presented its campaign objectives at the TriState Conference in Mount Gambier.

The group called for reforms to deliver equitable access to aged care services, choice for consumers and sustainability for aged care providers.

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