Frustration over payments saga

AUDIO: The approaching end of financial year has exacerbated tensions over the ongoing problems with the Department of Human Services’ new homecare payment system, with claims providers have been left with an “accounting nightmare”.

 

By Darragh O’Keeffe and Natasha Egan

AUDIO: The approaching end of financial year has exacerbated tensions over the ongoing problems with the Department of Human Services’ new homecare payment system, with Leading Age Services Australia saying providers have been left with an “accounting nightmare”.

They say the situation added additional stress and administrative burden on providers at a time when they are in the process of preparing their businesses and systems for 1 July changes.

The new system has been plagued with problems since it came into operation last October, with some providers initially unpaid and claims that some were owed millions in back payments.

In a statement on Friday, LASA said it continued to work with DHS and the minister’s office and payments started to be processed, but it had since been informed by its members that they were receiving payments without any identification, “creating serious issues for businesses as they face their annual audit post 30 June.”

“Considering age services is the most regulated industry it is difficult to accept such high level, and continued, systems failure preventing service providers from reconciling their own financial records at such a critical time for audit preparation,” the peak said.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you been affected by the issues with the homecare payment system? Comment below

The issue was raised by frustrated providers at the LASA WA state conference in Fremantle this week. Some in attendance questioned the lack of mainstream media coverage of the issue, given the ongoing impact it had for providers and staff.

Following his address at the conference, LASA chief executive Patrick Reid spoke to AAA’s Darragh O’Keeffe about the issue. Listen here:

 

 

Meanwhile, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) manager government relations and policy, Heather Witham, confirmed to Australian Ageing Agenda that many ACSA members also received payments without any identification but that DHS informed her the issue is now being resolved.

Ms Witham said there are a number outstanding causing great concern in the sector about end of year acquittals.

“ACSA has been liaising with DHS and DSS almost daily for the last six months over the significant problems with the aged care payment system for homecare providers,” she said.

The ongoing problems have raised concerns over the launch of the new payment system for residential care providers, which was due to begin from July, Ms Witham said.

“ACSA has requested DSS slow down the rollout of the new residential aged care payment system to ensure it is thoroughly tested first,” Ms Witham said.

Department statement

To clarify the current situation, Australian Ageing Agenda put a number of questions to the Department of Human Services. Here is the department’s response:

What is the current state of play with the aged care payment system for homecare providers?

  • The Department of Human Services is currently implementing a new Aged Care Payment System to improve the way in which payments are made to aged care providers. The first phase of this work, the introduction of a new payment system for home care providers, went live in October 2013.
  • The department has been dealing with issues that a number of providers have been experiencing with regard to some aspects of the new system. These issues related to using the online claiming system to lodge monthly claim reconciliations and the information that some providers received in their system generated payment statements. 
  • The system issues impacting home care services have now been resolved.

What issues are still outstanding and when will they be resolved?

  • Significant progress has been made and the majority of claim adjustments that have been received have been processed, or are in the final stages of processing.
  • Payments in relation to these claim adjustments have been forwarded to bank accounts and related payment statements have been despatched.
  • The payment statements contain detailed transaction details about each care recipient, and other payment and claim details, which will enable services to complete monthly and year end reconciliation processes.

Are you anticipating further problems or glitches in the future?

  • The system issues impacting home care services have now been resolved. The department will continue to work closely with aged care services and other stakeholders.
  • The department is continuing to maintain additional staff to ensure that as claim adjustments are received, they will be processed as a priority.
Tags: acsa, department of human services, heather witham, lasa, patrick-reid, payment system,

1 thought on “Frustration over payments saga

  1. We have not been notifed of any online system going live and have been submitting paper based claims since October last year.

    Yes we have been receiving payments but no statements since December 2013 which has caused a number of problems with reconciling accounts. We are now two weeks away from the EOFY and have no statements for the last 6 months. The statements that we have received have issues with client payments not being processed and clients missing payments all together.

    I must be missing something here as i dont think that these issues have been resolved.

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