Red tape reductions would give older Australians more choice

Changes to Australia's aged care system due to be implemented over the next three months will give older Australians greater choice in deciding what type of care or accommodation best suits their needs, the nation's largest network of aged care services said today.

Responding to today's speech of the Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne, Catholic Health Australia said successful implementation of current reforms should lead the way for more changes to occur.

CHA chief executive officer Martin Laverty said "Older Australians deserve greater choice when selecting their aged care. Regulatory changes that come into effect in May and then July will better inform the choice of older Australians. We have to put effort into making these changes work."

From May 19, residential aged care services will be required to publish room prices and information about their accommodation on the myagedcare website. Those entering residential aged care will have 28 days after entry to decide on a lump-sum or daily payment.

From July 1, older Australians will be protected from excessive care costs by annual and lifetime caps on care contributions, and those unable to meet costs will benefit from a 60 per cent increase in the accommodation subsidy. More home care packages also commence.

"Older Australians mostly want to be cared for in their home. More home care packages will help achieve this. For low-income Australians needing to enter residential care, the increase in the accommodation subsidy will ensure sustainability of residential care services," Mr Laverty said.

"The reform measures that are about to commence have been a long time coming. For too long, older Australians have found it challenging to find care places. Aged care providers, particularly those caring for low-income people, have faced sustainability challenges.

"The task for the Federal Government and aged care providers alike is to bed these reforms down in the best interests of older Australians. When implementation is achieved, older Australians, care providers and government need to move to the next stage of reform.

"The next stage of reform needs to focus on bettering the already high quality of most aged care services. It also needs to continue along the path recommended by the Productivity Commission to scrap the false rationing of care places.

"The biggest aged care red tape reduction the Federal Government could undertake would be to end rationing of care places. That can't happen straight away, as work to transition the aged care service market is needed first.

"Anticipating that the current reforms will be implemented successfully, CHA wants to work with the new Government to continue the needed transitions of the aged care market to deliver even greater emphasis on choice for older Australians," Mr Laverty concluded.

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