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Will the latest changes announced by the Government provide certainty for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme?

23 Jun 2015

Further changes to the Aged Care system were introduced 1 July 2015.

A significant change will be seen in community care with the merger of the following four programs into the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP):

  • Commonwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) Program
  • Planned respite from the National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP)
  • Day Therapy Centres (DTC) Program
  • Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) Program

The CHSP is projected to benefit older people by helping them to stay independent and remain in their homes and communities for longer.  There will be a transition period to introduce the CHSP from 1 July through to 31 October 2015.  Existing Guidelines for the Commonwealth HACC Program, NRCP, ACHA Program and DTC Program will continue to be operational during this transition period.

Hon Senator Mitch Fifield announced two changes to the introduction of the CHSP on 1 July 2015.

1. CHSP funding agreements extended to 30 June 2018. 

Upon implementation of the CHSP, there was to be two years of funding offered to service providers with grant agreements under the existing programs that will form the CHSP.  Senator Fifield has extended this period by one year. The new three year agreements will ensure financial certainty for providers until 2018, when the current government intends to merge the CHSP and Home Care Packages programme to create an integrated care at home program.

2. Principles-based fees policy

The previous government proposed a national fees policy for the CHSP, which was intended to be a mandatory, structured fees model. The mandatory framework was to consist of a standard fee (maximum rate applicable to non-pensioners) and two discounted fee rates (for part-pensioners and full pensioners) for each type of assistance.  Senator Fifield has announced that the current government has taken a decision not to introduce a mandatory fees policy and will instead introduce a principles-based fees policy for the CHSP.  Rather than setting a specific fee, the proposed fees framework will outline principles providers can adopt in setting and implementing their fees.  The government takes the view that a principled policy will prevent the client fees from exceeding the cost of the service and ensure there is a safety net for those who need it.

Senator Fifield’s latest changes are welcome news moving forward.  For service providers the changes propose a fees policy that recognises demographics and other community variables and the funding extension will provide financial certainty from the government for the next three years. 

At this stage no immediate action is required from providers for the CHSP introduction. From 1 July 2015 the government will release information over the four month transition period in relation to what actions providers are required to take and we will update our Simply Legal as necessary to keep up to date with the changes.

Simply Legal has a range of compliant agreements suitable for use in a range of different home and community care services.  To view our agreements, click here.