IG largely welcomes taskforce findings

But there was one important royal commission recommendation members failed to address, says Ian Yates.

In a rare statement, the Acting Inspector-General of Aged Care Ian Yates has welcomed the final report of the aged care taskforce released last month.

Released on Monday, the statement featured a summary analysis of the taskforce findings in which Mr Yates highlights fair consumer contributions, safety nets, simplicity and transparency of fees, refundable accommodation deposits, and promoting investment and growth as proposals that “closely align with the principles and observations” found in the Interim Inspector-General’s progress report on the implementation of the recommendations of the aged care royal commission.

However, Mr Yates expresses disappointment that the taskforce failed to address one royal commission recommendation to which the progress report drew particular attention – recommendation 41, which called for a replacement of the aged care provision ratio with a new planning regime by 1 July 2024.

Ian Yates

The progress report  “strongly supported” implementation of recommendation 41, says Mr Yates, and a move from a system “where planning is based on need rather than rationed.”

“The taskforce report did not make any findings or conclusions regarding rationing versus needs-based or make any recommendations or target any of the funding principles towards needs-based planning,” says Mr Yates.

Specifically created to assist the work of the recently established aged care taskforce, the progress report was presented to its members at the first meeting on 12 October 2023.

The progress report advised the taskforce that it was critical that the government achieve “the right balance” for everyone in the system when addressing financing and funding.

“A new aged care system will not deliver the necessary change successfully unless it is underpinned by robust, consistent, equitable and sustainable funding arrangements,” says Mr Yates.

To that end, the progress report suggested four overarching funding principles:

  • funding for the aged care system is adequate, secure, and sustainable into the future
  • funding arrangements are equitable and ensure aged care remains accessible to all, regardless of means
  • the costs of aged care are transparent and understandable to all
  • funding is economically sound and designed to ensure investment and growth in the aged care system.

“These principles are evident throughout the recommendations of the aged care taskforce’s final report,” says Mr Yates. “While the taskforce’s report and recommendations cover some areas of policy detail that the progress report did not, the overall directions of the taskforce final report are consistent with our recommended principles.”

As an example, Mr Yates refers to taskforce recommendation 3, which said: “It is appropriate older people make a fair co-contribution to the cost of their aged care based on their means.”

The progress report also acknowledged that current inequities in the aged care funding arrangements mean that taxpayers of moderate means facing significant living costs are paying for the aged care of people who may have a high income, assets, or both.

“We put forward as part of principle 2: ‘people with the means to pay do pay at a fair and equitable level to those with similar means,’” says Mr Yates.

As well, taskforce recommendation 4 called for “a strong safety net for low means participants to meet aged care costs.” The progress report also reflects support for safety nets for people with low means.

Taskforce recommendation 5 – “Make aged care fairer, simpler and more transparent” – also echoes a recommendation contained in the IIG’s progress report, which read: “The costs of aged care be transparent and understandable to all.”

Taskforce recommendation 12 called for an eventual abolishment of refundable accommodation deposits as a form of payment for aged care accommodation and to move to a rental-only model.

As Mr Yates points out in his statement, the progress report called for a phasing out of RADs in favour of alternative options. However, such a move, “needs to be undertaken in a slow and deliberate manner to ensure aged care providers remain viable during the changeover.”

Also in parallel with the progress report – taskforce recommendation 16: “Establish appropriate safeguards and incentives to protect access to residential care for supported residents.”

As Mr Yates highlights, the progress report read: “People who do not have the capacity to pay for care have access and receive the same safe and quality of care as people who have the means to pay.”

Despite the taskforce omitting to address “a needs-based framework for the provision of aged care,” in conclusion, Mr Yates acknowledges in his statement that there is a “direct alignment of many of the taskforce recommendations with the principles and observations in the relevant section of the progress report.”

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Tags: aged care taskforce, final report, ian yates, inspector-general of aged care, royal commission,

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