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Living Better Living Longer - Update

By Julie McStay13 Jun 2013

On 28 May, the five Living Longer Living Better Bills (LLLB Bills) passed through the lower house of parliament.

Following from this, the third report from the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs (Committee) was released on Friday 31 May (Report). The Report details the Committee’s view on the LLLB Bills jointly referred by the Senate to the Committee on 14 March 2013 and provides recommendations to Parliament on the content of the LLLB Bills.

The full Report can be accessed here.

The Report makes 13 recommendations, 6 of which (if supported) will involve amendments to the LLLB Bills. These recommended amendments to the LLLB Bills include:

  1. Creating a statutory timeline to make a decision as to whether the aged care industry will be subject to a levy to recoup a loss under the bond guarantee scheme.
  2. Changing the name of the dementia supplement to ‘Dementia and Behavioural Supplement’, in both residential and home care to capture people suffering from other medically diagnosed forms of mental illness.
  3. References to parents separated from their children by former adoption practices, as a special needs group to ensure that they are provided with the appropriate level of care in the aged care system.
  4. Creating a Homeless Supplement for residential beds for the homeless. This supplement was recommended to ensure that the unique needs of the elderly homeless in aged care are adequately met.
  5. Ensuring the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) is established on a statutory footing to ensure that the ACFA is independent from the Aged Care Pricing Commissioner.
  6. Ensuring the Sex Discrimination Amendment Bill 2013 is amended to prevent Commonwealth-funded religious aged care providers from being able to discriminate against the special needs group of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex). This was recommended to improve access to Commonwealth-funded faith based aged care.

The Committee commented that for their review to be truly effective access to the detail that is in the delegated legislation, regulations, guidelines or principles, needed to be available during the enquiry process.  Drafts of the proposed amending Principles were only released on the LLLB website on 20 May 2013 and consultation was then undertaken with appropriate working groups under NACA and with the Aged Care Commissioner, concluding on 30 May 2013.  The consultation undertaken was regarding the substantive changes to enable the three new supplements to be paid (workforce, dementia and veterans’), to implement new home care arrangements and to strengthen the powers of the Aged Care Commissioner.  As at the issue of the Report, the drafting of the Principles were not finalised.

The Coalition supported only one of the thirteen recommendations made, renaming of the dementia supplement. According to the Coalition Senators dissenting report, the concerns of the Coalition relate to:

  1. The Workforce Supplement;
  2. The Aged Care Funding Instrument appraisal;
  3. The Lifetime Contribution Cap;
  4. The Dementia Supplement;
  5. Accommodation Payments;
  6. The Pricing Commissioner; and
  7. Rural and regional issues.

The Coalition’s concerns essentially mirror that of the aged care sector and the Senate Standing Committee in that voting on the Bills is expected to take place without sufficient time to consider the bulk of the changes which are contained in the delegated legislation.  Unfortunately, some have been provided only recently as exposure drafts and key others are yet to be provided.

The last sitting day of the current sittings of Parliament is 27 June 2013.  If the legislation is to be passed with amendments, it will need to go back to the lower house (House of Representatives) and then to the upper house (Senate).  If the legislation is to be passed without amendment it will need to be passed through the upper house only.  In both cases, the legislation will need to be passed by 27 June 2013.  If the legislation does not pass by 27 June 2013, the legislation may be held over to the next sittings of Parliament, or may be placed into abeyance given the impending Federal election.

Aged Care Funding and other Aged Care updates

Information on the Residential Aged Care Subsidy and Supplement Levels for 2013-2014 and the draft subsidy and supplement rates for Home Care Packages have been released and will take effect from 1 July 2013.

The Home Care Package basic subsidy levels and amounts are:

  1. Level 1 - $20.55 per day;
  2. Level 2 - $37.38 per day;
  3. Level 3 - $82.20 per day; and
  4. Level 4 - $124.95 per day.

Importantly, where the resident meets the eligibility criteria for the new Dementia Supplement or Veterans’ Supplement, the provider will be paid an additional 10% on top of the basic rate listed.

These supplements are:

  1. Dementia Supplement of $16.15 funded by the Aged Care Funding Instrument;
  2. Veterans’ Supplement of $6.57 for veterans with a mental health condition accepted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs; and
  3. Workforce Supplement of 1% of the basic subsidy amount payable in respect of a day for a care recipient.

New Dementia, Veterans’ and Workforce Supplements will be provided from 1 July 2013 to eligible residents for both Residential and Home Care.  The implementation of the new Home Care Packages Program is set to commence on 1 July 2013.

Draft Guidelines for the Home Care Packages Program were released on 26 April 2013 as a consultation draft to assist stakeholders in understanding the upcoming changes to home care, and to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed implementation arrangements. The consultation period on the draft Guidelines has now closed, with comments and feedback currently being considered by the Department.

The final Guidelines for the Home Care Packages Program will be published on the Department’s website once the legislative framework is in place.

Once the final Guidelines are released, Hynes Legal will run a master class outlining how the changes will impact your business including what steps you need to take in order to be able to access the new supplements and deliver Home Care on a CDC basis.

For further information please contact Julie McStay on
07 3193 0503 Christina Evans on 07 3193 0504.