The 2015 Federal Budget papers made an extremely important announcement. From 1 February 2017, Home Care Packages will be allocated directly to consumers by the My Aged Care Gateway rather than to service providers through the Aged Care Approvals Round. 

What this means on a practical level is that the money for home care support will be given directly to the consumer as opposed to the current system whereby the money is channeled through the hundreds of Approved care Providers. This brings home care funding and payments into line with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

This measure, plus the new Consumer Directed Care (CDC) program effective 1 July 2015, puts the consumer in the driving seat. CDC allows consumers to 'direct' their care to providers of their choice (including private-pay providers like Right at Home) but under the current system that choice can be frustrated by government providers who hold the funds.

As with the current system, to be eligible for a package, a consumer would be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team to determine the appropriate level of assistance and their care needs. The My Aged Care Gateway will be responsible for prioritising clients' access to packages at the regional level within the number of packages allocated through the planning ratio. This will enable aged care recipients to receive services from a provider of their choice, including the ability to change providers.

The change means that government approved providers will not be able to use the funding provided by government to cover overheads which at present are deducted from the amount of home care packages. They will have to quote market related prices for services to consumers that include a margin to cover overheads. Those with bloated overheads will not be competitive.

This revolutionary change will put private-pay providers on an equal footing with not-for-profit government providers who at present act as gatekeepers for funding while at the same time frustrating consumer choice. The system will now be reliant on care companies providing excellent care, what, when and how consumers want it. Finally Older Australians who need quality care are in their rightful place - 1st!

See the government announcement at http://www.budget.gov.au/2015-16/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-20.htm

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