Stop fee rorting in seniors' Home Care

25 Oct 2021

A Private Members’ Bill that will cap the amount of money age care providers will be allowed to charge for “administration” to deliver care in the home to older Australians is being introduced today by the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

The Aged Care Amendment (Making Aged Care Fees Fairer) Bill 2021, if approved by Federal Parliament, will stop providers from charging any more than 25 per cent in administration for Level 1 and 2 Home Care Packages and no more than 20 per cent for Level 3 and 4.

“The current system is not working. Senior Australians are not getting the care they really need to stay at home,” Rebekha said.

“Existing legislation just says aged care providers have to keep their management fees and administration costs to a ‘reasonable’ amount but there are absolutely no guidelines about what ‘reasonable’ looks like.

“So-called competition is not keeping prices down, and some older Australians are paying more than 30 per cent and even up to half their packages in administration fees, or the costs are hidden in inflated hourly rates.

“The Government needs to stop the rorting and introduce pricing caps.”

Rebekha began drafting her legislation after surveying more than 15,000 residents aged 75 years or older in her electorate and asking them to provide information about their Home Care Package experiences.

More than 1,200 people mailed back their survey, with one in two respondents saying they were unhappy or unsure about administration fees in their home care packages and half of those with packages said there had been no change to their package over time, and yet they were still being charged the same ‘management’ fee.

Nearly one in three of survey respondents were still waiting for a home care package and one third had been waiting more than 12 months for home care of any level.

“The vast majority of survey respondents, some 94 per cent, said they were unable to afford daily care which I find staggering,” Rebekha said.

“Many of those surveyed reported paying administration and management fees of up to 48 or 50 per cent, including on packages that are very minimal.

“Some of these people were only able to afford one hour of cleaning or gardening a fortnight, and their care plans have hardly changed from one year to another, but they were still being charged up to 50 per cent in administration fees.

“I cannot fathom how such low value; static packages can continue to incur such ridiculously high administration and management fees. It’s outrageous and it needs to be stopped.

“My Bill will cap fees and it will make more funding available for actual care in the home.”

The Bill will also ban exit fees to change Home Care providers, and it will require Home Care providers to offer potential clients a comparative fee schedule for at least five approved providers in their area. If there are fewer than five providers in the region, the schedule must show fees for all approved providers in the area.

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