Senate debates

Monday, 9 December 2013

Questions without Notice

Aged Care

2:56 pm

Photo of Mitch FifieldMitch Fifield (Victoria, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

I acknowledge Senator Ruston's interest in social policy. It is indeed a priority for this government to cut red tape and to allow those who work in aged care to focus on doing what they do best, and that is delivering high-quality care for older Australians. When aged-care staff are reported to be spending up to a third of their time on paperwork it is obvious there is too much red tape. I am pleased to advise that the government has scrapped the previous government's requirements for providers to follow a prescriptive process in setting prices and the need to document and certify this process in great detail.

The previous government's aged-care accommodation pricing guidelines were confusing, cumbersome and prescriptive. I will give you a couple of examples of how complicated these would have been for providers. The first example:

In a group of rooms where some, but not all rooms, have five lights and all of the rooms have more lights, if the number of lights does not affect the method to determine the maximum amount of accommodation payment, then the description of rooms in the group need not mention the number of lights.

Got it? Clear? Next example:

In a group of rooms, the floors are covered with different coloured carpets and the carpeted rooms are valued above another group of rooms with vinyl floors, the same maximum amount of accommodation payment will be set for each and every room in the group. The description of the group may state that the rooms having "carpeted floors" and need not specify that the rooms have "red carpet or blue carpet". Alternatively, if the carpets did not affect the method for setting the accommodation payment for the rooms in the group, the provider may choose to omit carpet from the description.

It beggars belief that the previous government thought that level of detail would actually provide any protections for consumers or would actually inform consumers. All it would do would be to cause unnecessary administrative burden for providers.


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