The government has confirmed its aged care spend announced on the back of the royal commission’s interim report in December’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) but dashed hopes that there would be further funding for providers before Christmas.
Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $537 million funding package for aged care to address what the royal commission called urgent priority areas, including home care packages, young people in aged care and use of restraints.
On top of that package, MYEFO tallied the government’s aged care spend up to $623.9 million over four years, but Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) said the additional $87 million mainly covers Government administration costs.
Those additional funds were broken down into $31.5 million over three years to support transition arrangements for the implementation of the new aged care national assessment framework and workforce and $21.9 million for My Aged Care system operating costs, among other measures.
The Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will get $13.6 million to respond to requests from the royal commission and $11.4 million to better monitor, identify and respond to failures and financial risks in aged care.
Other aged care funding included:
- $5.9 million for a second-pass business case for the development of an Aged Care Funding Instrument alternative
- $1.9 million to strengthen prudential and financial risk management of aged care providers, and
- $1.1 million in forgone non-tax revenue from deferring the implementation of a mandatory levy on residential care providers where the Accommodation Payment Guarantee Scheme is triggered.
So with no new perceived financial security for the sector beyond what has already been announced this year, aged care providers are re-issuing warnings for the coming year.
LASA, along with a number of other provider representatives including Aged Care Guild and Aged and Community Services Australia, warned that the risk of aged care emergencies “looms large” in 2020.
“While the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety continues its crucial work, the sector says additional targeted transitional support is critical, to make sure seniors continue to receive adequate care, especially in regional areas,” the peak bodies said in a statement.
“On the home care front, with nearly 120,000 people yet to receive their assessed level of service – and many waiting up to two years or more for their approved Home Care Package – the aged care sector is asking to work with the Federal Government on a structured plan and more funding to reduce the queue.”
Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates urged the government to set a timetable and develop a clear plan to cut home care wait times to no more than 60 days.
“The government needs a phased, realistic and committed plan to reduce home care wait times to a maximum of 60 days over the next 2-3 years because without workforce planning and reform of the home care program it won’t get there just with extra money,” Yates said.
He added that while COTA recognises the financial pressures aged care providers face, the government must focus on structural reform, including putting funding for residential aged care packages into the hands of consumers.
“And more than 18 months after the government’s in principle commitment in the 2018 Federal Budget to deliver older Australians real choice in residential care providers we still don’t have a clear timetable for this to happen, yet this is not something that needs to wait for the royal commission.”
Outside of aged care, the government announced that the surplus will fall from the $7.1 billion spruiked ahead of the federal election to just $5 billion.
It expects a surplus of $23.5 billion over the four years from 2019-20, but this was down on the $45 billion projected in the April budget.
In its MYEFO, the government pointed to “weak momentum in the global economy” for the smaller surplus, as well domestic challenges like drought and bushfires.Do you have an idea for a story?
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