Catholic Health backs Govt aged care package

A Howard Government proposed $1.5 billion package of assistance for aged care will deliver high care services more equitably and take financial pressure off providers, according to Catholic Health Australia head, Francis Sullivan.

The package announced over the weekend will allow more elderly people to receive care in their own homes, with 7200 additional community care places over the next four years, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"(These measures) will ensure that the increasing number of older Australians now and in the future will be able to access the right level of care when they need it," Mr Howard said, announcing the reforms at a nursing home in Marayong, in Sydney's west, yesterday.

The 7,200 new community care places include an additional 1,600 extended aged care at home packages, which would double the availability of high level care provided to people living at home.

The number of respite care places would increase by thousands of hours, and there would be extra assistance for disadvantaged and Indigenous families and those in remote areas.

Self-funded retirees are being rewarded by the government through changes to the income test for eligibility for government support.

Under the new test all income will be treated the same, irrespective of whether it is a pension or private income, and will exempt income up to the maximum level allowed for a full pensioner.

The government's reforms will also see increased investment in residential high care, through increased accommodation payments and accommodation fees for new entrants who have the means to contribute towards their own housing costs.

The package is the government's final response to the 2004 report by Professor Warren Hogan.

Catholic Health Australia chief executive Francis Sullivan said it was a very good package that "keeps aged care affordable, makes the program more equitable, delivers more high care services and takes some of the financial pressure off providers".

Mr Sullivan said the package also cleared up the anomaly involving self-funded retirees.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd told reporters that his party would not stand in the way of the reform package.

Howard offers $1.5b aged care carrot (Sydney Morning Herald, 12/2/07)
$1.5bn boost for elderly care (The Australian, 12/2/07)
Mixed reaction to Govt's aged care funding package (ABC News, 11/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia

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12 Feb 2007