LASA warns the Government must commit to maintaining services for older Australians in their homes, by helping at-risk home care providers transition to a new payment system and by redirecting any savings to extra home care packages.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said there was too much uncertainty around the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Bill 2020 being debated in Parliament, which would move the current system of provider payments from ‘in advance’ to payment ‘in arrears’.

This legislation will move the last payment of the 2019-20 financial year into the following budget period, which LASA estimates will improve the Government’s underlying cash balance – the key surplus/deficit measure – by hundreds of millions of dollars.

“LASA wants a commitment from the Government that all savings will be directed into funding additional packages, to help reduce the current queue of 112,000 people waiting for their approved level of care,” Mr Rooney said.

“The rapid implementation of the proposed payment changes could also put older Australians at risk, by reducing the viability of some services and increasing administrative costs.

“Why is there such a rush on the legislation, when it could put people at risk of missed care?

“With the proposed June 2020 commencement date only confirmed last week, providers are being asked to adapt to a significant change in payment terms at short notice.

“Submissions from both the Aged Care Financing Authority and LASA have raised concerns that some providers will face major cash flow problems and may not be able to afford the transition.”

LASA’s submission to the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) indicated over 80 per cent of surveyed home care Members would find Phase 1 of the changes at least somewhat financially challenging.

“With the legislation being debated, we still don’t have answers on whether – as per ACFA’s recommendations – there will be transitional grants or loans available to providers in need and special consideration given to regional and remote providers and those in ‘thin’ markets,” Mr Rooney said.

“There are also considerable concerns about Phase 2 of the changes and we need clarification on a trial period for the new system to minimise disruption and whether or not providers can retain current unspent funds until each recipient leaves home care.”

More than 900 home care providers, delivering care to over 134,000 people, will be affected by the changes.

Contact: Nick Way 0419 835 449 nickw@lasa.asn.au