Thursday, 5 March 2020
Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Bill 2020; Second Reading
I'm pleased to speak on the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Bill 2020. Improving aged-care for senior Australians continues to be a key priority for the government, and we are making government to improve the sector. We're delivering record investment across the aged-care system, from $13.3 billion in 2012-13, growing to $21.4 billion in 2019-20 and up to an estimated $25.4 billion in 2022-23. That's an increase of over $5 billion in extra support for older Australians over the forward estimates. The government remains committed to supporting senior Australians to live in their own homes longer.
The Gold Coast's idyllic weather, proximity to beaches and amenities makes it a prime location to retire. My electorate of Moncrieff is amongst the highest in the number of senior Australians who call the central Gold Coast home. This means that we also have many senior residents who want to stay in their homes longer and are in need of care from their loved ones or are making the transition to aged care. In the year to September 2019, almost 30 per cent more seniors across the nation had access to a home-care package. Since the 2018-19 budget, the Morrison government has invested in 44,000 new home-care packages, at a cost of $2.7 billion.
This bill amends the way that home-care providers are paid the government subsidy. While I'm at it, providers shouldn't be spending people's money before they have delivered their services. StewartBrown found that at least 89 per cent of providers had sufficient liquid assets. Further, providers have access to a business advisory service. The government will be monitoring providers closely and responding if needed. I think that answers some of the questions that the member for Franklin had. Providers currently receive the monthly subsidy for a home-care recipient in advance, using an estimate based— (Quorum formed)
Providers currently receive the monthly subsidy for a home care recipient in advance using an estimate based on previous months. The provider then lodges a claim after the end of the month, at which time a reconciliation occurs. Underpayments of subsidy are then rectified immediately, while overpayments are withheld from future payments. This means that idle money often sits in providers' bank accounts, and this has created a rising level of unspent home care funds.
This old way of funding differs to how the Australian government ordinarily pays for programs and services such as the NDIS. The bill will amend the legislation so that a provider will not receive a payment in advance but will be paid the monthly subsidy for a home care recipient upon lodgement of a claim with Services Australia after the end of each month. To be clear, this will not impact on the amount of subsidy available to a care recipient under their home care package. This is an important step towards addressing stakeholder concerns regarding unspent funds and aligning home care payment arrangements with other government services.
The opposition has publicly agreed that these unspent funds should be supporting the home care system rather than sitting idle. The member for Franklin raised this in the House on 23 November 2019, and so we look forward to her support to ensure this important legislation is passed.
At the last election, Labor had no plan for senior Australians. Instead, they planned for $387 billion in new taxes, including their retirees tax, which would have—