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Single fee scale for aged care to cost well-off seniors more

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The federal government has announced changes to the fee structure for services delivered to older Australians through the Commonwealth Home Support Program.

The changes, to be rolled out in 2015, are set to end the wide variation of fees states and territories charge.

“As our population continues to age, the pressure on our system will continue to increase,” federal Minister for Ageing Jacinta Collins said. “These changes are an important part of ensuring the sustainability of our aged-care services for this and future generations of Australians.”

The new structure will require some older Australians to contribute more to their own care costs, and ensure that people around the country with the same financial means contribute the same for their care.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty said it was important that this did not result in reduced access to care for older Australians.

“This announcement implements a recommendation made by the Productivity Commission and is important in increasing the equity and fairness of Australia’s aged-care system,” Laverty said. “At present, different fee structures operate across state and territory boundaries. A single national scheme makes sense.

“As Australia prepares for a rapid increase in the number of seniors, we must be realistic about how we fund care and support for those who need it.”

Laverty also said it was reasonable to ask those who could contribute to their at-home care to do so; however, “for those not able to fund their care costs, a robust social safety net needs to be maintained,” he added.

The changes will be developed in consultation with community and sector representatives who form the Commonwealth Home Support Program Advisory Group.

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