On, or around 22 July 2019, the Department of Health updated its My Aged Care website section on aged care fees to include the following section regarding additional services:
*image from https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/aged-care-home-costs-and-fees
This statement addresses some of the key controversies in relation to additional services, namely:
whether providers can require residents to pay for additional services as a condition of entry (ie the ‘mandatory model’); and
- whether they can be provided on a packaged basis, similar to extra services.
While such reliance on statements should always be undertaken with caution, this statement appears to make it clear that according to the regulators providers can have a “mandatory” additional services fee, and that services can be provided on a packaged basis. Although it is clear that consumers can only be charged for services they can make use of, it also appears to reaffirm that they do not have to actually use the services.
With the importance of increased consumer contributions highlighted by both the Tune Review and recent Stewart Brown benchmarking, this clarity is likely to be welcomed by the sector.
This does not address all the controversies in relation to additional services. There remains a need for clarity of other key issues, such as what an itemised account requires, and in what circumstances providers can charge for higher quality forms of services in the specified care and services. However, this statement should provide some greater certainty to providers and residents.
Providers charging, or considering charging for, additional services should continue to closely monitor regulatory developments in this area and seek legal advice if required as it remains a high risk area for providers.
For more information
Please contact Anita Courtney, Solomon Miller or Victor Harcourt from our Aged Care team should you require further information or advice.
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