Five bills from the Gillard Labor Government’s $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms will be introduced into Parliament today by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler.

The 5 bills to be tabled are:

  • Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Bill 2013;
  • Australian Aged Care Quality Agency Bill 2013;
  • Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013;
  • Aged Care (Bond Security) Amendment Bill 2013; and
  • Aged Care (Bond Security) Levy Amendment Bill 2013.

These bills will have a substantial effect on the way approved providers operate. The key amendments proposed by the bills are as follows.

From 1 July 2014:

  1. The removal of the distinction between low level and high level residential care. This  means that there will only be one type of approval for permanent residential care.
  2. A new means test combining income and assets tests, and new annual and lifetime caps on means tested care fees for care recipients who enter residential care on or after 1 July 2014.
  3. An additional dementia supplement and a new veterans’ mental health supplement will be introduced payable to providers who care for eligible care recipients. A workforce supplement will also be payable to eligible providers. These supplements will be payable from 1 July 2013.
  4. Care recipients who contribute to their accommodation costs will have the choice of paying for their accommodation through a fully refundable lump sum (such as a bond), a rental style periodic payment, or a combination of both.

From 1 July 2013:

  1. A new type of care, home care, will replace Community Aged Care Packages and some forms of flexible care delivered in a person’s home (Extended Aged Care at Home and Extended Aged Care at Home - Dementia).
  2. An additional dementia supplement and a new veterans’ mental health supplement will be available to providers who care for eligible care recipients. A workforce supplement will also be payable to eligible providers.

People receiving home care on 30 June 2014 will continue under their current arrangements unless they leave care for more than 28 days (and subsequently re-enter care) or they move between services and choose to have the new rules apply to them as if they entered home care on or after 1 July 2014.

Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said the changes to the Aged Care Act 1997 are part of a 10-year plan to build a better, fairer, sustainable and nationally consistent aged care system to meet the challenges of the nation’s ageing population.

Approved providers should start considering how these changes will affect their facilities and what mechanisms they should put in place to assist the transition. Gadens Lawyers will provide a complete summary of the proposed reforms and can assist approved providers to deal with these reforms.