Moves by the Commonwealth to introduce private accreditation services into aged care have been further delayed by a year, the government’s budget update shows.
The government first announced the surprise measure 18 months ago, in its 2015 Budget, as part of a push for aged care providers to pay the full cost of accreditation, which it estimated would cost them $30.7 million over four years.
A levy covering accreditation costs to be paid by residential aged care providers will now be introduced from 1 July 2018, the government said in its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) on Monday, which is two years later than was originally planned.
At the time of the initial announcement, then minister Mitch Fifield told Australian Ageing Agenda that there would be “extensive consultation” with the sector before the changes were implemented (read that story here).
Since then the sector has been raising concerns with the government that the ongoing work to streamline the accreditation standards across residential and home care needs to be implemented before competition in accreditation services is introduced.
On Monday, Aged and Community Services Australia said the government’s decision to defer expanding cost recovery for accreditation was a “welcome move” that would “give providers and the government more time to prepare for the changes during a time of unprecedented reform.”
The government’s mini-budget also contained the changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) which were announced on 6 December (read our story here).
The combined impact of these changes is a saving of $21.6 million over four years, said Sussan Ley, Minister for Health and Aged Care.
In addition, the budget update included $2.4 million for a “small pilot in 2017” to test alternative funding models for residential aged care funding.
“This will inform changes to the ACFI, including possibly replacing ACFI, and taking assessment of residents’ needs out of providers’ hands, and having the assessment done externally,” Ms Ley said.
The University of Wollongong is currently undertaking the work to develop possible alternatives to the troubled ACFI.
The university was due to provide the Department of Health with an options paper canvassing possible models in early December. It is expected to deliver its final report, which will include a timeline for potential testing and implementation of the department’s preferred model, in early February 2017.
Elsewhere, the government’s previously announced boost to the viability supplement provided to rural and remote aged services amounts to $19.3 million over four years, the budget update shows.
And fulfilling an election promise announced by Ms Ley, a specialist dementia care unit will be established in each of the 31 primary health networks – the cost of which will be met within existing Department of Health resources, the budget update confirms.
Related AAA coverage: Implications of accreditation changes come into focus
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