House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022


Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022; Consideration in Detail

11:52 am

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | Hansard source

I move the amendment circulated in my name:

(1) Schedule 2, item 1, page 5 (line 11), omit "recipient;", substitute:

recipient, including a schedule of reasonable charges associated with the provision of the following to the care recipient:

(i) administration and management of care;

(ii) services;

(iii) equipment;

This amendment is very simple. It aims to supplement measures provided in schedule 2 of the bill. It does not limit matters which may be provided for in the User Rights Principles under the Aged Care Act. It does, however, specify that those principles should include a reasonable schedule of charges associated with the provision to care recipients of administration and management of care, services, and equipment.

The purpose of this amendment is this: as sure as night follows day, if we put a cap on administration and management fees on this side, we are going to see people who receive a home-care package no longer being charged perhaps $90 an hour or $150 an hour on the weekend. That is the usual fee that I see, and I've surveyed more than 1,200 residents in my community and asked them to go into detail for me. I've seen their invoices. As sure as night follows day, those fees will go up. I understand that the minister is saying, 'We're going to keep a watchful eye on this.' That's going to be after the damage, after people are charged $200 or $300, because providers will share and shift the cost on this. There's no reason why a reasonable schedule of fees couldn't have a metropolitan layer and a regional, rural and remote layer. There's no reason why you couldn't have a range of fees.

I have constituents in my electorate who are being charged $700 for an occupational therapist to spend 10 minutes in their home to tell them that they need to get a shower chair or get a little hanging basket instead of putting their shampoo on the ground—'Just get a little hanging basket from Kmart; that's $700'—or put a rail in their wardrobe. This is extraordinary. They're being charged $700 for an occupational therapist to visit them and tell them that they need that, and then it's $440 for a company to come out to a home to provide a quote and $1,000 to install the rail. And it's all taken from the funds. Then what happens when it's taken from the funds? Older people are told, 'We're going to have to cut back your hours this month, and when we get the next lump of money for you at the end of the month you can go back to your normal hours of care.' It is outrageous that we would not fix this problem properly, right now in this parliament, and not say, 'Oh, the department's going to look at this in the future' or 'We're going to be really keeping a watchful eye on this one'.

I will be talking with my constituents as soon as this is implemented, saying: 'Tell me, how much are your hourly rates now? What are you being charged for an hour of home care, or 20 minutes of home care, now? And how much are all those quotes for occupational therapists who come out and spend 15 minutes with you, and how much are you being charged?' As I said, they are going to profit-shift from where they're currently making obscene amounts of profit on administration and management fees, where providers are not changing month to month the actual care plan for a person but still taking 50 per cent, and move those profits over to the other side, where we're not putting caps in.

Minister, this is an area I have cared deeply about for six years. It's one of the few areas in this parliament in which I would say I actually have a very reasonable amount of knowledge. We are going to make older people even more vulnerable to some of the unscrupulous practices by many home-care providers. I have a regional electorate. I understand what you're saying with respect to, 'We don't want to make sure it is not profitable and that people move out of delivering regional services'. I can tell you right now: on Kangaroo Island it is incredibly difficult. You get given a home-care package by the government—but try and find anyone willing to do it. That's already an issue. We're going to see, in areas where they're still willing to deliver, that they're just going to profit-shift from one side of the equation over to the other. We in this place want to see people get more hours for their home care, and that will not happen with this legislation as it currently is.


No comments