The Federal Government is delivering on its commitment to introduce nationally consistent fees for services delivered to older Australians and their carers through the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
The change, to be implemented from July 2015, will end the wide variation in fees currently charged for basic home support services across the country, improving the fairness and sustainability of this form of support.
Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Jacinta Collins said that the change will also build in new safeguards for people least able to contribute to their care.
“The simplified fee structure will take into account people’s ability to contribute to their own care – so that older Australians who cannot pay for these support services will not have to. No one will be denied services because they can’t afford to pay”, Minister Collins said.
The changes deliver on the Government’s commitment, outlined in Living Longer, Living Better, to implement national consistency in what people contribute to aged care services, and responds to the Productivity Commission’s recommendation in their report, Caring for Older Australians.
The national fee structure for the Home Support Program will be developed in consultation with the community and sector representatives that make up the Commonwealth Home Support Program Advisory Group and be implemented gradually, being phased in from July 2015 and fully in place by July 2017.
The Federal Government is providing $3.7 billion to reform Australia’s aged care system over the next ten years – the biggest reform in aged care in a generation.
This includes a significant expansion in care at home, with an increase of around 40,000 additional Home Care packages by July 2017.
“The Labor Government is committed to building a new aged care system that will have the capacity to provide quality, affordable, accessible and appropriate care to a rapidly growing population of older Australians over coming decades”, Minister Collins said.
The new nationally consistent fee structure will ensure the sustainability of the Government’s home support services into the future, with fees in place from July 2017 reflecting around 15 % of the total cost of providing these services.
“As the Government has long said, as our population continues to age, the pressure on our system will continue to increase. These changes are an important part of ensuring the sustainability of our aged care services for this generation and future generations of Australians”, Minister Collins said.
The Government’s Home and Community Care Program (HACC), National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP) and Day Therapy Centres (DTC) will all become part of the Commonwealth Home Support Program from 1 July 2015.