Aged care in Australia needs “urgent reform as quickly as possible” alongside an overhaul of the funding model to ensure the sector remains financially viable, new Aged Care Minister Anika Wells says. Source: The Guardian.
Describing the situation for the sector as a “crisis”, Ms Wells said the Albanese Government was already supporting a number of providers to remain open given the current pressures on the system, where the majority of providers are operating at a loss.
“It is worse than we thought. Every rock I turn over, it is worse than we thought, and I think that is the experience across the board,” Ms Wells said.
“The sector is in crisis. It is an absolute mess that we have inherited. It was in crisis before Covid hit, and Covid has exacerbated all of those conditions, particularly workforce.
Ms Wells, who has taken on the portfolio at a time when providers are warning of unprecedented pressure in the system compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, is clear-eyed about the challenges ahead for the sector, acknowledging there is a debate to be had about how it is funded over the long term.
While indicating the Government would not budge on lifting the indexation rate for aged care provider payments, which is set well below inflation at 1.7 per cent for 2022-23, Ms Wells said legislation for a new pricing model would be introduced as soon as possible for the new system to come into effect from October.
She also said that she had begun looking at the forecast funding shortfall for aged care as the population ages, with the royal commission into aged care finding that government spending on aged care will increase by 4 per cent a year over the next decade.
‘Worse than we thought’: Labor says urgent reform needed to fix aged care crisis (By Sarah Martin, The Guardian)