What happened to aged care in the 2022 federal budget?
You may have looked at the 2022 Federal Budget and thought it was light on aged care reforms, and it was.
But you need to remember that the 2021 Budget focussed on aged care with a five-year reform plan. This year the government reinforced its commitment to that plan, with an additional $20.1 million funding to bring the total additional spend to $18.8 billion over five years. And remember, this is on top of the $21.5+ billion per year we already spend on aged care.
Whether enough is spent or not, or whether it is the right spend or not, are certainly contentious issues. And you can be sure that this year’s Federal election is gearing up to be a debate on aged care:
The current Government is promoting its current program of reform – ie the five-year plan that is already one year into reform
The opposition is promising improvements in services and care
Unions are pushing for wage rises
The aged care industry is pushing for more funding to help stem the operational losses arising from increasing costs of care and wage pressures, and
The general public, who are your clients, are confused.
What the Government announced
In this year’s Budget the Government reconfirmed its commitment to the five-year plan announced in the 2021 Budget. This included a five-year five-pillar package of reforms.
Residential aged care - services and sustainability
Residential aged care - quality and safety
Demand for home care continues to increase, and the next tranche of 40,000 new home care packages (to be released over 2022-23) will continue to increase availability and reduce waiting times. While waiting times have reduced by approximately 25%, the reality is that waiting time for a Level 3 or 4 package is still estimated to be 6-9 months.
Navigating home care should be easier when the current Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Home Care Packages are combined into one new Support at Home Program from 1 July 2023. The details are yet to be developed, with advisory committees and older Australians providing input into the development.
A new funding model to reset the cost of care for residents is currently being trialled (called AN-ACC), with implementation set for later this year. In this year’s Budget, an extra $20.1 million in funding was announced over the next three years.
The 2021 Budget also committed to a minimum of 200 minutes per day of care on average for every aged care resident.
Across the 2021 and 2022 Budgets, the government has committed to reforms costing $18.8 billion over a five year period and these reforms picked up on 126 of the 148 Royal Commission recommendations, with 12 more under consultation.
Despite what changes are implemented by our currrent government, we know the costs of aged care will only continue to increase as the Baby Boomer generation moves into their frailty years, increasing not only the demand for services but also higher consumer expectations around qualify and services.