Minister Wyatt has written to home care providers regarding moves to require greater transparency and comparability of home care fees and on his thoughts on the management of unspent funds. The Government has provided new advice on actively managing unspent funds.
LASA has advocated extensively to the Government on the need to be aware of this issue and what can be done to redirect these funds to new packages where this is appropriate. The Minister has asked the Department to commence work to investigate this issue and better understand the drivers of accumulating unspent funds in home care packages. The Department will begin consultation with the sector shortly.
LASA has previously alerted Members to the Government’s plan to increase home care fee transparency and comparability. Minister Wyatt notes that:
- He continues to receive many complaints from senior Australians and their families about excessive administrative charges.
- He also receives feedback about a lack of pricing transparency and comparability between different home care providers. This is an issue that was also highlighted in David Tune’s Legislated Review of Aged Care.
- Over the past three months he have been working with representatives of the aged care sector to discuss these issues and develop options and solutions to improve pricing comparability in home care. He has decided to take a number of these options forward to reform the transparency and comparability of pricing in home care:
Step 1: the Minister is requesting all providers to immediately publish their current pricing schedules via use of the Home Care Package Service Finder on My Aged Care.
Step 2: this will be made mandatory in the last quarter of 2018.
Step 3: the Department will work collaboratively with the sector over the next six months to co-design and implement a new pricing comparability table on the Home Care Package Service Finder. Mandatory participation in the pricing comparability table will be introduced by 30 April 2019.
The Minister has said that it is his intention that these measures do not inhibit innovative service delivery in a competitive home care market. LASA has strongly argued on this point, including that pricing comparability table should be simple and easy to use, should accommodate different pricing structures and should not constrain how providers describe their service offerings. LASA has also stressed the need for sector consultation and the need to allow suitable lead-times for implementation.
The Department of Health has provided further informal advice that:
- A Government consultation paper will be developed on these changes and consultation activities will be run over the next 8 weeks, including workshops.
- It is intended that administration fees will be rolled into hourly service fees as the existence of these fees has been the source of many consumer complaints and makes comparing prices harder.
LASA will continue to advocate for a sensible approach to these changes and will ensure that there are opportunities for Member involvement in the consultation.
Any inquiries may be directed to Kate Lawrence-Haynes, General Manager Policy and Advocacy at KateL@lasa.asn.au.