Key supplements under-subscribed by $34 million

The dementia supplement may have overblown its $11 million budget ten-fold but the other supplements contained in the Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms were all under-subscribed by more than $34 million last financial year, internal departmental documents show.

The dementia supplement may have overblown its $11 million budget ten-fold but the other supplements contained in the Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms were all under-subscribed by more than $34 million last financial year, internal departmental documents show.

The Department of Social Services documents obtained by Australian Ageing Agenda under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Veterans’ Supplement for Residential Care, the Homeless Supplement for Residential Care, and the Dementia and Cognition Supplement and Veterans’ Supplement in Home Care were all under-subscribed last financial year.

The figures are outlined in advice to Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield after he requested the department provide an update on expenditure on the other supplements following the blowout in the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement.

The documents obtained by AAA show:

  • Just 72 veterans received the Veterans’ Supplement in Home Care
  • Less than 5,000 home care clients with a cognitive impairment received the relevant supplement
  • The total under-claiming on the supplements was worth $34.2 million

The revelation of under-subscription to key supplements will likely escalate long-standing industry criticisms of problematic and cumbersome claiming procedures instigated by the relevant government departments.

Dementia and Cognition Supplement, Veterans’ Supplement in Home Care:

The documents show that for the Dementia and Cognition Supplement in Home Care, which supports home care recipients assessed as having a cognitive impairment, providers claimed just $12 million of the $42.1 million allocated budget by March 2014. The supplement provides an extra 10 per cent funding on top of the basic subsidy amount for the relevant home care package.

Similarly, for the Veterans’ Supplement in Home Care, which also provides a 10 per cent funding boost on the relevant home care package for veterans with an accepted mental health condition, providers claimed just $67,000. This equated to a total of 72 veterans receiving the supplement by March 2014.

DSS breakdown: Dementia and Cognition Supplement and Veterans' Supplement in Home Care
DSS breakdown: Dementia and Cognition Supplement and Veterans’ Supplement in Home Care
Veterans Supplement for Residential Care:

It was a similar story for the Veterans Supplement for Residential Care, which was introduced to support veterans with service-related mental health conditions living in residential care, as providers claimed just $1.7 million of the $4.3 million estimated budget by March 2014. The supplement reached just half of its expected recipients.

DSS breakdown: Veterans Supplement for Residential Care
DSS breakdown: Veterans Supplement for Residential Care
Homeless Supplement for Residential Care:

The departmental documents show that the Homeless Supplement for Residential Care, which provides $15 per day for each resident with a history or risk of homelessness, had an estimated budget of $4.6 million, but providers claimed $3 million by March 2014.

DSS breakdown: Homeless Supplement for Residential Care
DSS breakdown: Homeless Supplement for Residential Care

In the advice to Senator Fifield, dated 30 June, DSS secretary Finn Pratt noted that the “number of people attracting supplement payments and the associated expenditure for these supplements are currently tracking in line with, or below, the Budget estimate established at the 2013-14 Budget.”

Accordingly Mr Pratt said the department was “not currently considering an estimated variation for any of these supplements.”

The advice came after Senator Fifield wrote to Mr Pratt on 30 May asking for a review of the supplements to determine if their modelling and budgeting was adequate, what monitoring was in place and what action would be needed to address any over expenditure.

“While these supplements are important for older Australians, the sustainability of the aged care sector and the Commonwealth finances are important for all Australians,” Senator Fifield wrote.

Providing the figures in response, Mr Pratt noted that with regards to monitoring expenditure, the Department of Human Services had a role in “monitoring the financial compliance of providers in receipt of supplements.”

He added that if “more targeted monitoring of the supplements” was required, “there would be an increase in both costs and red tape.”

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Tags: dementia and cognition supplement, dementia-supplement, department of human services, department of social services, freedom of information, homeless support for residential care, slider, veterans' supplement in home care,

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