Opposition defends seniors against cuts to aged-care

CUTS to aged care support for senior Australians could undermine major reforms begun by the previous government, the Federal Opposition has claimed.

Changes to the Commonwealth's aged-care system, including means-testing for some people to pay more for residential care and support to live in-home, will come into effect on Tuesday.

Other changes put in place will be new options to pay for accommodation and services, including daily payments or refundable deposits and capping of care fees.

The reforms, part of the previous government's Living Longer, Living Better package, have had largely bipartisan support.

But Labor's ageing spokesman Shayne Neumann said while he welcomed the Government keeping the reforms, cuts increases on the $1.1 million aged care workforce supplement could undermine the gains.

"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," he said.

Mr Neumann said the cut to rises in the supplement, and removal of the $652 million payroll tax supplement were "putting progress at serious risk".

But Assistant Social Services Minister Senator Mitch Fifield said the most important thing was that older people and families "learn about the choices available".

Senator Fifield said there was now a government website and hotline that people could use to find out more details about how the reforms will affect them.

"Most people don't start thinking about, or looking for, aged-care services until something happens - such as a fall or adverse health event," he said.

"But it's important to start an early conversation about what care options are available to you or a loved one, because this will help ensure older people get the support and care they need to keep them safe and living independently, or to find the residential aged-care setting that's right for them."

For more information, call the My Aged Care hotline on 1800 200 422, or go to: http://www.myagedcare.gov.auAgeing

Reforms:

  • More home care packages to help older people stay in their own home
  • More choice to pay for accommodation and services, with 28 days to decide how they would like to pay
  • Transparent accommodation prices and services, with all residential aged-care providers required to publish the maximum amount they charge
  • Means-test in residential care to determine a person's fair contribution, if any, to their care and accommodation, based on both their assets and income. New means-test arrangements will also apply to home care
  • A $25,000 annual cap to means-tested care fees in residential care will be introduced, and caps will also be in place for home care, set at $5000 a year for part pensioners and $10,000 a year for self-funded retirees
  • A $60,000 lifetime cap on means-tested care fees across both home and residential care will limit the total cost an individual will spend on their care overall


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