The chair of the UnitingCare Aged Care Network, Geoff Batkin, has welcomed the announcement by the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt, that the Government had scaled back some of the more severe cuts to aged care funding.
The Commonwealth Government previously announced $2 billion in cuts to the funding to meet the complex health needs of residents in aged care services. The two tranches of cuts, announced in the May Budget and in December 2015, significantly reduced the funding to the Complex Health Care component of the instrument that funds residential aged care, the Aged Care Funding Instrument.
“Our Network is pleased that the Government has listened to the concerns of aged care providers that the proposed cuts would have a significant negative impact on the care of frail, older people and has made adjustments to reduce the severity of changes to the funding instrument. We are particularly pleased that the Government has reversed the proposed downgrades to funding for the critical areas of pain management and physiotherapy.
“We also welcome the increased supplement to support the viability of rural and remote aged care services. This is particularly important as those services were most likely to be hardest hit by the proposed changes and residents in these areas have fewer choices.
“We have consistently advocated for a pause to the proposed cuts while the Government worked with the sector to develop a more sustainable funding model for aged care – one that delivers access, equity, and funding certainty, while allowing providers to deliver high quality care, including care to meet complex health care needs.
“We are very pleased that the Government has listened to the views of the sector that the cuts as original proposed would have severe and inequitable impacts on the most vulnerable in residential aged care who rely on pain management and physiotherapy to manage conditions such as arthritis, stroke and cancer.
“We are concerned, however, that the Government has not scaled back the size of the cuts and remains determined to remove more than $2 billion in funding from the sector. No matter how these cuts are achieved, negative impacts on the quality of care, access to care and the health and aged care sectors will be unavoidable,” said Geoff
Geoff said the UnitingCare Aged Care Network would study in detail the implications of the revised funding reforms and would continue to work with Government on the development of a new funding model.
“The reality is that the aged care sector cannot withstand funding cuts of this magnitude and expand to meet the needs of an ageing population. We appreciate the need to contain growth in expenditure but we will continue to advocate for adequate and equitable funding and for the collaborative development of an aged care system that will support consumer choice and wellbeing,” he said.2