Funding must be fair and equitable

When it comes to funding reform, a co-contribution model is front and centre of the minds of the members of the aged care taskforce, providers heard at an industry event on Wednesday.

When it comes to funding reform, a co-contribution model is front and centre of the minds of the members of the aged care taskforce, providers hear at an industry event on Wednesday.

“We want quality care to be available to all Australians, but those who have more means may contribute more – that is something that we are actively discussing,” said deputy chair of the taskforce and former International Monetary Fund executive director Nigel Ray.

“I would say equity both in terms of access and the way that the funding might flow is front and centre of all of the taskforce’s deliberations,” he added. “It’s there at each and every taskforce meeting.”  

Speaking before a packed hall of delegates at the national conference of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association in Adelaide, senior partner at StewartBrown and taskforce member Grant Corderoy agreed equity was a key focus.

“One of the very first things we’re looking at is a safety net and making certain that those who are vulnerable – be it financially vulnerable, emotionally vulnerable or physically vulnerable – are looked after,” said Mr Corderoy. “But at the same time the taskforce recognises that there should be a contribution of some sort for those who can afford the contribution.”

Also on the panel HammondCare chief executive officer and fellow taskforce member Mike Baird. Ensuring there is a safety net is crucial, he said. “That is fundamental. But the biggest challenge for us is bringing in new capital.”

Although ACCPA has long advocated for co-contributions, its CEO and taskforce member Tom Symondson said no one solution would repair the system. “The reality is the size of the gap is so significant that one approach – one flick of the switch, we’re doing that thing – won’t fix it. Whatever the final report says, it’s going to be more than one bullet point.”  

Creating a sustainable aged care sector was of “incredible national importance”, said Mr Symondson, “so each option has to be well thought through.”

All solutions to address sector sustainability were being discussed, said ACH Group chair and taskforce member Mary Patetsos. “We need to consider everything, otherwise we’ll have unintended consequences. And it is those unintended consequences that have led us to be a little bit unsustainable over time.”

First meeting in June, and chaired by Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells, the taskforce has assembled monthly to discuss long-term funding of the aged care sector.

Its interim report – due this month – will list solutions but will not contain conclusions, delegates were told. “It scopes the challenge and frames the potential policy options, but it does not reach conclusions,” said Mr Ray.

The final report will be released in December. Facilitator Tony Jones asked Mr Corderoy whether he was confident that, by then, the taskforce would have agreed on a reform roadmap.

“Yes. I would say very confident. There is a recognition that the sector needs more funding – there is an absolute recognition of that. And we’ve got a recognition that providers have to be financially sustainable. The final report has to have actionable recommendations and we have to have a clear agenda.”

Mr Corderoy told delegates funding reform was a “generational opportunity”. “It’s not fixing aged care next year, it’s not fixing aged care in two years – it’s putting together a framework so that we can move to the next generation of aged care in a sustainable manner so that Australia can have an aged care system it deserves.”

Below, Mike Baird talks to AAA from the fringes of the conference.

Main image L-R: Tony Jones, Grant Corderoy, Tom Symondson, Mary Patetsos, Nigel Ray and Mike Baird discuss funding reform

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Tags: ACCPA, featured, grant corderoy, Mary Patetsos, mike baird, national conference, nigel ray, Tom Symondson,

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