LASA CEO Sean Rooney has been interviewed about pricing practices in home care for a story on the ABC’s 730 program that is likely to air next week.

The main concerns raised in the interview were high administration fees and high prices charged for gardening fees. While not commenting on individual cases, Mr Rooney emphasised that prices would vary in a competitive market and that consumers were well protected by quality standards and complaints procedures.

Pricing in home care has been a long-term focus of media interest and policy change.

Most recently, on 29 November LASA, ACSA and a group of CEOs from home care businesses met with Minister Wyatt to discuss concerns with the Government’s plans to implement a rigid price disclosure schedule for home care on My Aged Care from April 2019.

While there was no firm commitment from this meeting, it was a positive discussion about practical steps to address the concerns of industry noting the Government’s strong commitment to proceeding with this initiative.

These discussions with Minister Wyatt are the final stages of a process initiated by the Minister when he wrote to LASA in March 2018 advising of increasing concerns being raised by senior Australians and their families about the lack of transparency and comparability of home care pricing information, and the high administration prices being charged by some home care providers.

These issues have previously been raised in several forums including the Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017, leading to a recommendation that ‘government and providers work together to determine how to ensure comparability of home care pricing for consumers and how to best publish on My Aged Care’.

Throughout 2018 LASA has actively participated in high level consultation meetings with the Department of Health and a range of provider and consumer peak groups in advocating for a sensible approach to transparency and comparability that accounts for the maturing home care market and consumer engagement.

LASA has also submitted a comprehensive Consultation Report to the Department of Health in September 2018 based on Member feedback in response the Department’s Home Care Pricing Transparency and Comparability Consultation Paper with intention to inform government process.

LASA’s key messages in relation to home care pricing are:

  • Providers overwhelmingly support greater transparency, and provider peak bodies have made public statements supporting the Government’s efforts in this area.
  • The latest Stewart Brown data shows a 30 per cent fall in provider surplus from 7.3 per cent in 2016-17 to 5.5 per cent in 2017-18.
  • The requirement for providers to publish their prices on My Aged Care as of 30 November has helped to drive down prices and provide increased comparability for consumers.

We are working with Government on the next stage of the pricing transparency initiative. The key will be ensuring that the pricing schedule that is implemented is not so restrictive as to limit the communication to consumers of innovative pricing and service delivery models such as bundling of services and sub-contracting of services.