The team at Mirus Australia were especially interested in the federal budget announcement regarding residential aged care and the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) and the investment in the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council.
In July 2020 the Economic and Fiscal Update statement by the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg allocated “$166.9 million over two years from 2020-21 to continue work on options to reform residential aged care funding and to replace the ageing ICT payment system for residential care”.
The latest release states:
“The Government is continuing to develop an alternative aged care funding tool—the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC). This Budget includes $91.6 million in funding for a new independent AN-ACC assessment workforce”.
Some analysts “expect that the 2020 Budget announcement is included in the previously announced funding.”
“This call out in the announcement provides the breakdown in funding for improving the technology versus changing the assessment tool,” says Senior Manager, Data Analytics at Mirus Australia Tyler Fisher. “A lot of attention has been given to the comments during the Royal Commission by Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray criticising the Federal Government over its 2016/17 freeze on ACFI indexation, saying that aged care providers are being “stretched beyond their limits” by a funding system designed to focus on helping the Government “toe the financial bottom line”.
The AN-ACC solution was devised at a time when the government was seeking to further “toe the financial bottom line”, while ACFI was the tool designed to provide more accurately adequate funding for the care being provided. Co-founder at Mirus Australia James Price says “this clearly demonstrates that any funding instrument needs to both relate to underlying care needs and adapt to available budget as it is made available. The ACFI is efficient in the fact it is an honour-based system and can be audited remotely. The alternate method of external assessment is more expensive and less responsive.“
Tyler Fisher states that “any assessment/funding tool will be tied to indexation through legislative machinery and all subsidies, benefits, and pensions use some version of a formula based on increases in the Consumer Price Index. What does the budget tell us about the priority of replacing ACFI? ACFI has demonstrated it can provide the funding required, assuming legislators allow funding to grow with the economy. Does ACFI need to be replaced or is it the funding principles that must allow increased sustainability for providers, which AN-ACC is not designed to do?”
Tom Murphy, Head of Workforce at Mirus Australia said he was pleased to see the investment of $10.3 million over three (3) years from 2020-21 to support the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council to implement the Aged Care Workforce Strategy.
“It’s great to see this line in the budget as investing in our workforce is crucial to long-term sustainability. However a lot of providers will be more concerned about their short-term viability and asking where’s the revenue coming from to pay staff, and attract and retain the workforce of the future?”