Catholic Health News and Press Releases

Independent report confirms essential aged care funding to be cut by 11% 

29 June 2016

(Download Media Release)

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) in partnership with UnitingCare and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has today released an independent review that supports fears that the Turnbull Government’s changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), which target older people with the most complex health care needs, will result in funding reductions that will significantly exceed Government estimates.

The review, conducted by Ansell Strategic, was undertaken to assess the impact of the proposed changes to the ACFI on funding and the care of residents. It involved 501 aged care homes and almost 39,000 residents across Australia.

“It has been our concern from the beginning that the ACFI changes designed to pull back on the rate of growth of funding per resident per annum on account of the increasing frailty of residents will cut deeper than intended, and will compromise the ability for the sector to provide for residents in need of the most complex care,” said Catholic Health Australia’s CEO, Suzanne Greenwood.

“The Report confirms that changes to the ACFI would decrease funding per resident by an average of $6,655 and reduce funding for aged care homes by 11% on average,” said Mrs Greenwood. 


Please follow this link to read the media release.

19 June 2016

Labor’s commitment to reverse cuts to the MBS pathology bulk billing incentives welcomed

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) welcomes today’s announcement that a Shorten Labor government would not proceed with the removal of the bulk billing incentive items for pathology tests.

CHA CEO, Suzanne Greenwood said today that “this proposal will remove some of the current financial pressure facing the sector and will help to ensure current levels of bulk billing are maintained.”

“Too many vulnerable and disadvantaged patients are already not accessing necessary health services due to high out of pocket costs for GP and specialist visits. We should not be adding to this burden,” Mrs Greenwood added.

“We welcome this measure as a recognition of the challenges facing pathology, and in particular the not-for-profit and independent providers.”




17 June 2016
CHA calls for transparency surrounding aged care cuts
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) fears that financial modelling informing the Turnbull Government’s Budget changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) which target aged care residents with the most complex health care needs significantly underestimates the true impact on aged care services and the care of residents.
Assessments by service providers of the changes are all indicating that they will reduce annual care funding in aged care homes by up to 12%, depending on the care needs of the residents in each home. 
“If implemented, cuts of this magnitude will compromise the care of residents that require the most complex nursing care,” warned Catholic Health Australia’s CEO, Suzanne Greenwood.  
“These residents currently benefit from non-pharmaceutical pain management by allied health professionals.” 
“It would also mean that providers would no longer be able to accept people from hospitals with high complex care needs.”
“Such significant cuts to aged care funding would also have a negative impact on the viability of aged care services and add to the volatility and unpredictability in care funding seen under ACFI in recent years. If not addressed, this threatens investment in the quality new services that will be required to care for Australia’s ageing population.”

“CHA recognises that the government needs to take some action over the much higher than anticipated growth in care funding that has been projected,” said Mrs Greenwood.
“Any future ACFI reforms must first be informed by rigorously tested financial assessments otherwise the government risks poorer outcomes for residents in need of complex care as well as their service providers.” 
“Catholic Health Australia calls on Minister Ley for the timely release of the financial modelling undertaken by the Department of Health of the changes to ACFI, and welcomes Shadow Minister Neumann’s support for the release of the modelling.” 
“Older people are entering residential care from home care with more complex health care needs, which is increasing the cost of providing quality residential care,” said Mrs Greenwood. 
“It is therefore critical to consumers and providers that these higher costs are recognised and that unpredictability and volatility in the funding of aged care services is avoided.”
“This issue is of particular concern to Catholic not-for-profit providers whose objective is to care for the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Mrs Greenwood. 
“The ACFI should enable those with the most complex care needs – some of the most vulnerable of residents – to experience the best possible quality of life. Excessive cuts to care funding would fail our most vulnerable seniors.”
  • Government estimates to reduce ACFI expenditure by approximately $2 billion over four years to 2019-20.  
  • Assessments by service providers indicate a potential reduction of annual care funding in aged care homes by up to 12%.
  • CHA calls for Minister Ley to release the modelling informing the cuts to the ACFI in order for the sector to review and discuss the financial modelling with government.
  • 22% of the population aged over 85 are in residential aged care
  • Approximately 23,000 residential aged care beds are operated by CHA’s membership.
  • CHA’s members provide services for approximately18,220 home care and support clients. 
Please follow this link to read the media release.

12 June 2016
Labor’s commitment to provide additional funding for public hospitals welcomed

Today’s announcement that a Shorten Labor government will re-commit to funding 50% of the efficient growth in public hospital costs was welcomed by CHA CEO, Suzanne Greenwood.

“Our public hospitals play a vital role in the health of our community, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. It is important that they are provided with the resources necessary to maintain that role,” Mrs Greenwood said.

 “The commitment by Labor to 50% growth funding would ensure that the Commonwealth will continue over the long term to play its share in making sure that public hospitals are properly resourced. By being exposed to growth in hospital costs, it will also strengthen the incentive for the Commonwealth to appropriately fund primary and aged care services – thereby reducing future hospital demand”, said Mrs Greenwood.


12 June 2016

Government private health insurance announcement a win for consumers

"Today’s announcement that a re-elected Turnbull government will act to make private health insurance more transparent and easy to understand is a big win for consumers and will benefit the wider health system," CHA CEO, Suzanne Greenwood said today.

“Private health insurance plays an important role in Australia’s health system. With around half the population being covered by private health insurance, it is vital that consumers have a good understanding of what they are covered for.”

“The range and complexity of health fund products, including the options for exclusions and limitations, means that the vast majority of consumers do not understand the scope of coverage of their insurance product.”

“When consumers do need hospital treatment, many can be disappointed to find that they do not have the level of cover they thought and face the prospect of significant out of pocket costs.”


Urgent action needed to maintain not-for-profit and independent pathology

18 May 2016

“Whoever is elected to government on 2 July will need to take urgent action to ensure the continuation of the not-for-profit and independent pathology sector,” CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA), Suzanne Greenwood, said today.
“The not-for-profit pathology sector is under extreme financial pressure as a result of ongoing cuts to MBS rebates, a freeze in MBS indexation since 1998, unilateral reductions in benefits paid by private health insurers and rapid increases in collection centre costs.”
“Additionally, the Medicare rules mean a large number of tests performed by pathology labs are not remunerated.”
The removal of the bulk billing incentives from 1 July would have dealt a further heavy blow to the sector. 
Catholic Health Australia has welcomed newly appointed Chair of the Board, Mr Tony Howarth AO.
“The theme that I want to bring to CHA is that our voice is stronger by working together,” said Mr Howarth. “Our organisations and our services are stronger; our mission is stronger by working together.”
Having served as Chair and Deputy Chair to a number of boards throughout his career, including the St John of God Health Care Board for over fifteen years, Mr Howarth is well-accustomed to meeting the leadership demands of large, complex organisations.
“I really do want to bring a collaborative view to the Catholic health and aged care  sector during my time as Chair, with the understanding that it doesn’t matter if you’re a small organisation or a large one, we’re all living in an environment where we’re dealing with scarce resources,” Mr Howarth said.

Please follow this link to read the media release.
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