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Howard Government to extend aged care accommodation bonds.



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M E D I A S T A T E M E N T

Stephen Smith MP

Acting Shadow Minister for Ageing & Seniors Member for Perth

16 June 2004

HOWARD GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND AGED CARE ACCOMMODATION BONDS

The Howard Government showed last night in Parliament that it is absolutely committed to extending aged care accommodation bonds if it is re-elected after the next election.

Last night in the Parliament I moved an amendment to the Aged Care Act 1997 to prevent the extension of aged care accommodation bonds beyond the current low level of care.

My amendment was to add a provision to the Act as follows:

“… if the application of Resident Classification Scale levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 as ‘high care’ and levels 5, 6, 7 and 8 as ‘low care’ is modified or replaced with the effect that care recipients are categorised into three levels, namely Resident Classification Scale levels 5, 6, 7 and 8 as ‘low care’, levels 3 and 4 as ‘medium care’ and levels 1 and 2 as ‘high care’, the payment of an accommodation bond can only be required in respect of care recipients categorised as ‘ low care’”.

The Government, on division, voted against the amendment.

The amendment, if agreed to by the Government, would have excluded the extension of accommodation bonds to the Government’s proposed new medium level care.

As part of the Government’s Budget response to the Hogan Review, the Government has committed itself to a new Resident Classification Scale (RCS), with a new funding model to be developed and introduced in consultation with the industry in 2006.

This will include three levels of care: low, medium and high care, a consolidation of the current eight RCS levels.

The Minister herself has to date deliberately failed or refused to rule out the extension of bonds to the medium care level, which is part of the current high care level.

There are currently 8 Resident Classification Scheme levels of care in residential aged care:

RCS levels 1-4 are high care level. High care level residents do not pay an accommodation bond. RCS levels 5-8 are low care level. Low care level non-concessional residents pay an accommodation bond.

The Hogan Review recommended the consolidation of the current eight RCS levels to three new categories:

• High care (RCS levels 1 and 2), • Medium care (RCS levels 3 and 4) and • Low care (RCS level 5 to 7).

The effect of the Government voting down the amendment is that the Government has refused to rule extending bonds to the new medium level of care (that is, part of the current high care level).

This gives the lie to the Government’s pretence that it is not proposing to extend aged care accommodation bonds.

The Government’s actions in the House last night show that if re-elected, the Government will extend aged care accommodation bonds.

ENDS RELEASE

Contact: Victoria Toulkidis on (02) 6277 4372 or 0439 994 564