Senate debates

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Aged Care

6:08 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Classification Amendment (CHC Domain Scores) Principles 2016, made under the Aged Care Act 1997, be disallowed.

Thirteen sitting days remain, including today, to resolve the motion or the instrument will be deemed to have been disallowed.

I move this disallowance motion on the Classification Amendment (CHC Domain Scores) Principles 2016. This is an instrument that has implemented changes to certain scores in the scoring matrix. I am sorry this is so complicated, but for those who are not necessarily au fait with such intricacies this is about aged-care funding. It is about the complex healthcare domain within the aged-care funding instrument; henceforth, I will call that ACFI. This tool is used to fund residential aged care. The changes to the scoring matrix affect the level of funding for the complex healthcare domain for new appraisals or reappraisals of existing residents. The ACFI tool is about how much funding—that is the bottom line—residents in aged care get. It is a tool that looks at all the different issues that need to be addressed while someone is in residential care. The instrument that I am seeking to disallow is around the funding that is available for the complex healthcare domain for a resident in aged care.

The changes to the matrix downgrade two of the categories in the matrix. Ansell Strategic has produced modelling on the ACFI changes for UnitingCare Australia, Catholic Health Australia, and Aged and Community Services Australia. The summary findings provide that the July 2016 ACFI changes will result in facilities receiving $1,890.70 less per annum per resident. I must admit that it is quite complicated, because there are a series of changes that either have been made or are proposed to be made to the ACFI instrument; hence, the referral to the time when some of these change will come into effect. Some of the other changes will into effect in January and at other times. This one came into effect in July 2016. The instrument was registered on 17 May this year, and the changes came into effect on 1 July this year. The changes contained in this instrument will apply until 31 December this year, at which time the new complex healthcare matrix—just when you thought it could not get any more complicated, it has—is set to come into effect.

The changes to the scoring matrix are one of a number of changes, as I said, to the ACFI that were included in the 2015-16 MYEFO changes and also in the 2016-17 budget. Collectively, the changes to the ACFI will cut $1.6 billion in funding from aged care. The modelling by Ansell Strategic shows that these cuts will in reality reduce funding to the sector by more than $2.5 billion or by $6,655 per resident per annum. Many providers and aged-care residents across the country have raised concerns with me about the impact that these cuts through the ACFI will have. Changes to the complex healthcare domain will impact on people suffering from chronic pain, degenerative diseases, severe arthritis and complex wounds. UnitingCare Australia has said of the cuts:

The changes will put increased pressure on the public hospital system if the viability of residential aged care service providers is threatened …

They were also very concerned about the disproportionate impact on services in regional and rural Australia.

The Senate is also conducting an inquiry through its Community Affairs References Committee into the aged-care workforce. When we talk about the aged-care workforce the ACFI cuts come up, because they have direct implications for the workforce. Again, I am not seeking to pre-empt any of the findings or anything like that from the workforce inquiry that I am chairing and that Senator Polley, who will be speaking shortly, has been very active on. Some issues in that inquiry have crossed over, as I said, to ACFI, because workforce issues relate in part to funding. While we have been holding that inquiry, this issue has come up. I would like to read what some of the witnesses have said in that inquiry. Just last week in Tasmania—


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