The new principles-based fees policy for the Commonwealth Home Support Program, to be applied from 1 November, will retain the expectation that client contributions grow to a minimum of 15 per cent of a service provider’s grant revenue, a CHSP forum has heard.
The Department of Social Services told an Aged and Community Services NSW & ACT event last Thursday that while the Federal Government was not proceeding with a mandatory fees schedule, it would retain the program’s original fees collection target to improve the sustainability of the CHSP over time.
Client contributions through the CHSP must be used by providers to expand existing services.
Rajan Martin, director of the department’s home support implementation branch, told the Sydney forum that if a CHSP provider was not already collecting fees from consumers, there was an expectation that they would move to having a transparent fees policy in place.
Providers will need to provide full information about the organisation’s client contribution policy to consumers in advance of services being provided, he said.
In sector consultations, the National Aged Care Alliance has urged the government to consider how it will ensure equity in areas where the capacity to collect fees to expand services will be limited.
“Some geographic areas, but also some specific services, will have differential capacity to actually increase their fees take, which may create disparate outcomes for older people,” Paul Sadler, chair of the NACA Home Support Advisory Group told Community Care Review.
NACA has called for the department to target CHSP growth funds to organisations providing services in lower socioeconomic areas to ensure they are not disadvantaged by their smaller fee collections.
The alliance has also argued that some CHSP providers delivering services in rural and remote areas, in public housing settings and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may also require a blanket exemption from charging fees, in a similar fashion to clients under the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged program.
The finalised principles-based fees framework is due to be released by government in August.
The department is also working with the sector to develop a national guide for providers and consumers, which describes the current varying fee arrangements to increase transparency.
Elsewhere, the department told the forum it will announce in coming weeks support services to assist providers with implementing a wellness and restorative care focus in the CHSP.
It said the $20 million transition funding announced by Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield in late June was in recognition of the costs incurred to providers updating business arrangements to support future work on fees, accepting referrals though My Aged Care and preparing for data entry into the DSS data exchange.
The department is hosting a CHSP webinar for service providers on 6 August at 2pm AEST.
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