|Bishop wrong about home care safety net for elderly|
12 July 2000
The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) has condemned comments made by Commonwealth Aged Care Minister, Bronwyn Bishop, that suggest that frail and needy old people can readily avoid the GST on essential home care services.
"It is true that fees charged to eligible Home and Community Care Program (HACC) clients will be GST free," said NCOSS Director, Gary Moore.
"However, the stark reality in NSW, is that the demand for services provided through HACC, runs at twice the level of available service."
"Many frail older people and people with disabilities, the two key client groups of HACC, struggle to get even limited access to meals on wheels, home help, community transport and home modification help."
"We understand that, as many as 80,000 potential clients of HACC across Australia, each year, cannot get the home care service they need. Over one third of these are in NSW."
"It is likely that many of these very vulnerable people will be paying private sector home care fees which will attract the GST."
"NCOSS recognises that both the Commonwealth and the NSW Governments have increased spending on HACC since the mid 1990s."
"However, as both levels of Government are aware, demand for community care services in the home continues to outstrip increases in the supply of services."
"This is due to many factors, including the desirability of keeping older people out of nursing homes, for as long as possible, and the earlier discharge practices of our hospitals, involving shorter stays of patients."
"These policies, whilst having positive intent, mean cost shifting, from the hospital and residential aged care systems to the community care sector."
"Unfortunately, the dollars are not following the clients."
"Minister Bishop would do better, if she won enough additional funds for community care from the Commonwealth Treasury, rather than making misinformed statements about the capacity of HACC and defending the GST," added Mr Moore.