Labor to Keep Coalition’s Aged Care Cuts
26 May 2016 at 11:42 am
The federal Labor party has said it would not reverse the $1.2 billion aged care budget savings but has committed to a review of the way services are funded, which aged care organisations claim resembles little difference to the Coalition’s stance.
Chief executive of Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA) Ian Yates said shadow minister for ageing Shayne Neumann’s announcement on the budget cuts was “not a surprise”.
“Labor actually is not in a position to reverse those cuts,” Neumann told the ABC on Thursday.
“What we’re in a position to say is we will change the approach that we undertake across this space, we’re in a position where we will do a review of the ACFI [Aged Care Funding Instrument] modelling, because that’s what the sector wants.”
However, Yates said this was similar to a commitment made by the Coalition.
“Both the government and Labor are saying we need to review the Aged Care Funding Instrument,” Yates said.
“The minister [for aged care, Sussan Ley] has indicated that she would like providers to join with the government in working out how to have an independent assessment of aged care needs and funding.
“This is consistent with the Aged Care Roadmap recommended by the Sector Committee, and indeed by the National Aged Care Alliance’s position on the future of aged care.”
After the 3 May budget cuts to aged care were announced, it was suggested that it could become a federal election lynchpin if Labor used the opportunity to garner the older Australian vote.
Labor will release its aged-care policy on Thursday, which the party said would focus on making Australia “age-friendly”.
Yates said that the aged care sector wanted to know more about how proposed changes to the way the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) would work. The ACFI is a mechanism that asses the level of funding for providers per patient.
“We need to understand the details of the government’s modelling because the concern is not as much as the $1.2 billion but whether the department has its modelling correct or whether the measures announced in the budget will end up being harsher than anticipated,” he said.
“We want to see how the department and treasury have modelled the changes to the funding instrument so we can look at whether it’s achieving the stated purpose or whether it has, in fact, overshot the mark and will lead to actual reductions in care rather than a decrease to the amount funding’s increasing.”
Earlier this week, COTA, along with the National Aged Care Alliance of 48 organisations, launched the End the Aged Care Lottery petition.
“This is aimed at the full implementation of the Productivity Commission’s 2011’s report into aged care,” Yates said.
“What we want to see is that in residential care we get choice for consumers, as they will have in homecare. From February next year consumers will be able to take their homecare package to the provider of their choice and move it if they’re not happy. We want to see that principle apply in residential care, that’s been recommended by the Roadmap.
“We want to see the abolition of arbitrary ratios. If a person has been assessed by a government-approved instrument [as] being in need of aged care, they could get the resources, they shouldn’t have to wait in a queue.”