More Work Needed to Ensure Quality Sustainable Aged Care

Further work and more substantial reforms will be needed if we are to place Australia in a better position to fund quality aged care for a growing number of older Australians, Business Council of Australia Healthy Australia Task Force Chair Rohan Mead said.

“We are encouraged by some of the government’s proposals, such as additional funding allocated to some high-need areas of the sector, and measures to address workforce pressures. However, the changes will not increase access to quality aged care or boost choice and the overall sustainability of the sector”, Mr Mead said.

Mr Mead said the BCA is concerned that the aged care announcements made today have missed the opportunity to implement the widely supported reform prescriptions of the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians report.

“While there has been some additional funding, much of it comes from cutting services to other parts of the sector,” he said.

“The government is also introducing more red tape, in the form of pricing controls independent of market mechanisms, ignoring one of the key recommendations in the BCA submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry.

“The BCA fears that this environment will not attract quality providers and will not allow current providers to flourish, innovate and provide new initiatives. Also, services will still not be available on a needs-basis.

“For example, with over 130,000 people turning 75 in 2012–13, only 4,901 additional home care packages will be provided. Next year over 95% of people born in 1938 will be denied access to home care, even if they have high care needs.

“We are further concerned that the sector may suffer as a result of the government pricing controls, which may be an impediment to  the substantial private sector investment required in the sector.

“While there are some worthwhile measures these reforms do not adequately address the need for fundamental reform of the aged care sector to ensure its long term adequacy and sustainability.”