Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Budget 2004: Devil in the aged care detail put off until after the election: bonds and a 40% increase in the accommodation charge.



Download PDFDownload PDF

M E D I A R E L E A S E

Stephen Smith MP Acting Shadow Minister for Ageing & Seniors Member for Perth

11/04 12 May 2004

DEVIL IN THE AGED CARE DETAIL PUT OFF UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION: BONDS AND A 40% INCREASE IN THE ACCOMMODATION CHARGE

After years of neglect and ignoring pleas from the industry, the community and Labor, the Howard Government is now proposing an election year political fix in residential aged care.

Since the introduction of its aged care system in 1997, the Howard Government has presided over a crisis in access and quality of care for older Australians. Aged Care providers have suffered from recurrent and capital difficulties, in many cases threatening their ongoing viability.

In principle, Labor welcomes the Government’s increased injection of capital and recurrent expenditure.

Labor also welcomes the principle of increased expenditure on the education and training of aged care workers and nurses, as reflected in our already announced ‘Aim Higher’ education package.

As I have said consistently, Labor will support sensible proposals that are fair and seek to relieve pressures on access, quality and viability.

However, in this area of policy and administration, it is very much the case that the devil is in the detail, much of which has been deliberately put off until after the election.

In its response to the Hogan Report’s recommendations, the Government has deliberately put off for consideration until after the election a range of matters, including the following:

¾ Whether an accommodation bond will apply to residents who are classified as medium-care residents under the new Resident Classification Scale. The Government says that its simplified resident categories and new funding model will be introduced in 2006 after consultation with the industry.

¾ Whether there will be a further increase in the maximum daily accommodation charge for non-concessional residents from $16.25 to $19, a nearly 40 per cent increase from the current charge.

¾ Whether the requirement that at least 40 per cent of residents are concessional before a provider is entitled to a concessional supplement is retained into the

future.

¾ Whether accommodation bonds will apply consistently for both high level care and low level care.

¾ Whether bonds will be available to providers for the duration of a resident’s period of stay if it is greater than the current five years.

¾ Whether an aged care voucher system will be introduced.

¾ Whether an auction or tender system will be introduced for the allocation of aged care places.

The Government says that it will consult with industry on the above recommendations, thereby putting off any decisions of them until after the election.

Labor will now carefully examine the detail of the Government’s Budget package, consult with industry and respond to the array of measures in a comprehensive way.

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