Clarity sought on aged-care reform bill

Aged care Reform Funding Draft legislation Association of Independent Retirees

A body representing self-funded retirees has called on the government to provide additional detail on the costing and funding contained in the draft Aged Care Bill 2023.

The Association of Independent Retirees (AIR) has expressed concerns about the lack of detail contained within draft legislation for proposed reforms to the Australian aged-care system.

The Aged Care Bill 2023 was tabled in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which recommended the previous Aged Care Act 1997 was no longer fit for purpose and focused too heavily on providers rather than the individuals receiving care.

While endorsing the underlying principles of the draft legislation, AIR chief advocate Wayne Strandquist indicated key details involving costing and funding would need to be clarified before the body would offer its full support for the bill.

“The source of funding, fees, payments, subsidies, consumer contributions and means-test arrangements are not included in the exposure draft legislation,” Strandquist noted.

“It is essential that the basis for capital contributions and the ongoing care costs for aged-care recipients be known before the consultations on the new Aged Care Act are completed.

“It is very difficult to consider the implementation of reforms proposed in the new act without knowing how the provisions of the new act will be funded and specifically who will bear the cost.”

He added it was difficult for the AIR to provide a submission on behalf of its members within the consultation period timeframe when these key details were missing from the bill.

Additionally, he raised concerns about the potential rise in costs for aged care due to specific regulatory oversight integrated into the mechanisms supporting the exposure draft legislation’s objectives.

“While there has been some public discussion on how aged care should be funded in Australia, there is no consensus. As with intensive medical care throughout their lifetime, not all the population will require intensive aged care in their later years,” he said.

“Members of the Association of Independent Retirees support changes to legislation that will provide safe, available, affordable and high-quality aged care and the new Aged Care Act needs to provide all the details of how this will be done.”

The consultation period for the draft legislation will close on 16 February.

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