Labor's aged care reforms roll out but cuts put progress at risk

THE HON SHAYNE NEUMANN MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BLAIR
 
SENATOR HELEN POLLEY
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR AGED CARE
LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
 
MEDIA RELEASE
 
LABOR’S AGED CARE REFORMS ROLL OUT BUT CUTS PUT PROGRESS AT RISK
 
Some of the biggest changes to aged care in a generation will come into effect from 1 July 2014, as a result of the former Labor Government’s historic Living Longer, Living Better reforms.
Shadow Minister for Ageing, Shayne Neumann, welcomed the changes to the financing of residential aged care, which are part of a 10-year plan to build a better, fairer, sustainable and nationally consistent aged care system to meet the challenges of the nation’s ageing population.
 
“I welcome the Abbott Government’s continuation of Labor’s Aged Care reform roll out, although I am concerned about the unexpected cuts to aged care following the Budget, in particular the sudden cessation of the Dementia Supplement and the removal of the Aged Care Payroll Tax Supplement,” Mr Neumann said.
 
Living Longer, Living Better was the culmination of years of hard work by the previous Labor Government, aged care stakeholders, the Productivity Commission and thousands of Australians who assisted in the development of these reforms.
 
“These reforms will deliver choice, easier access and better care for older Australians, their families and carers, while ensuring the aged care industry is equipped to deal with the dramatic growth in our ageing population.
 
“However, the Abbott Government cut from Labor’s historic Aged Care investment in its first Budget, putting progress at serious risk.”
 
The 2014/15 Budget made cuts to Aged Care including:
 
o        Cut $1.1 billion Aged Care Workforce Supplement;
o        Cut the $652 million payroll tax supplement; and
o        Cut to pensions, which will affect the revenue streams of aged care providers.
 
“The Abbott Government has also abolished Health Workforce Australia in this year’s budget,” Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care, Senator Helen Polley said.
 
“With the ongoing challenges the Aged Care sector faces, we are deeply concerned that the Abbott Government has no plans for addressing the looming workforce crisis in the industry.”
 
“We are putting Tony Abbott on notice: Labor will not stand by and allow this Government to undermine our reforms.
 
“Labor will ensure these reforms are operating as intended and that the relevant programs are receiving the funding the need to meet demand and ensure services remain accessible and affordable,” she said.
 
The changes from 1 July 2014 include:
 
  • The removal of the distinction between high and low care;
  • New means testing arrangements for residential and home care packages;
  • Greater flexibility in the way consumers pay for residential care;
  • Improved transparency; and
  • Increased accommodation supplement for approved providers.
 
The intent of the Living Longer, Living Better reforms was to ensure the long term sustainability of aged care in the face of increasing demand from an ageing population.
 
While consumers who can afford it will be asked to pay more, the Commonwealth will remain the major funder of aged care services.
 
Labor’s changes to aged care have been rolling out since 2012 and include the introduction of a single gateway to make it easier and simpler for older Australians and their families to access the information they need.
 
This resulted in the My Aged Care website and hotline, which are currently operating and continuing to develop. For the first time, providers will need to publish their prices on the website.
 
Further changes to home care packages and the Home Support Program will roll out from 1 July 2015.
 
MONDAY 30 JUNE 2014
 
MEDIA CONTACT:    Madonna Oliver (Mr Neumann) 0416 199 808
                                  John Ronan (Senator Polley) 0408 542 547