The Federal Government’s introduction of nationally consistent fees for home support services for older Australians will right a wrong that currently sees older people pay markedly different rates for the same service. However it is essential that the protections in place for those who can’t afford to pay for their own care are monitored to make sure they work.
Ian Yates, Chief Executive, COTA Australia, representing over 500,000 older Australians, said the system had long been inequitable and was unable to be sustained given the growing older population.
“COTA has argued for the introduction of an equitable fees system which allows people to pay for services they receive based on a means-tested sliding scale,” Mr Yates said.
“This system ensures those who can’t afford to pay are still provided the services they need without cost, while making sure those that can afford it are paying the same amount for the same service no matter where they receive that service.
“At present an older person in Western Australia might pay 15% of the cost of a service to help them in their home while an older person with a higher income in parts of Queensland could receive the same service for nothing.
“This is simply not fair and it is good to see the government has now moved to correct this.
“COTA supports the staged introduction of the new system as it will allow both older people and service providers to prepare for the change.
“COTA welcomes the commitment to develop the new fee arrangements in consultation with consumers and service providers and with the National Aged Care Alliance’s Home Support Advisory Group.”
Mr Yates said it was important the government ask the Aged Care Financing Authority to formally monitor access to the Home Support Program so the impact of the new fees can be properly assessed as they are rolled out. The ACFA is already doing this for Home Care Packages.
“It is critical that the new system is closely monitored and adjusted as needed to make sure it achieves its proper outcomes”
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jane Garcia 0434 489 533.