The 2018 Budget and Aged Care
No new funding for aged care
The 2018 Budget contains no surprises for aged care. Measures include the continuation of home support services, development of an aged care workforce strategy, and information and communications technology improvements. The measures do not involve significant new funding.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme
The Budget includes a continuation of funding for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), providing $5.5 billion for a further two years to 30 June 2020. This is not new funding, as funding was already included in the forward estimates.
The CHSP is an entry-level program that assists older people to remain at home by providing services such as meals, community transport, personal care, nursing, domestic assistance, and respite. It commenced on 1 July 2015 and extends funding arrangements with CHSP providers and Regional Assessment Services (responsible for determining eligibility for home support) from 1 July 2018. New conditions place a greater emphasis on activities that support independence and provide more choice for consumers.
The measure delays a merger of the CHSP with the Home Care Packages Program which provides higher-level assistance to remain at home. In the 2015–16 Budget, the Government announced its intention to establish a ‘single integrated care at home programme’ from July 2018, following consultation with the aged care sector. The aim is to simplify the aged care system for consumers and reduce ‘red tape’ for providers.
Expansion of the aged care workforce
Funding of $1.9 million over two years from 1 July 2017 established an industry-led taskforce to develop a strategy to improve and expand the aged care workforce. This complements a related budget measure providing $33 million to assist providers in rural, regional and outer suburban areas to meet workforce demand in the disability and aged care sectors. Both measures will use existing Department of Health and Department of Social Services resources.
My Aged Care website and call centre
Two measures relate to important Information and Communications Technology platforms for aged care. The first is the provision of $3.1 million in 2017–18 for improvements to My Aged Care, a website and call centre which is a central entry point for aged care consumers and providers. This is the only aged care budget measure that involves new funding. The second measure is part of the Guaranteeing Medicare provisions, which include $67.3 million in 2017–18 to modernise the health and aged care payments system, retaining it in government hands.
This article was written by Margaret Miller, partner at Bell Legal Group. It is general in nature, is not legal advice and must not be relied on as such. If the content of this article may affect you or someone you know please contact us to obtain advice specific to your circumstances. Call 07 5597 3366 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org