The federal budget has been revealed and with it a substantial set of cuts and changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument, or ACFI. For those in the industry, this isn't particularly surprising, having been on the horizon for some time now. What wasn't expected though, is the extent to which the proposed changes may affect residential aged care - with an estimated AU$1.2 billion to be cut over the next four years.
While these changes are indeed substantial, few can claim that they aren't justified, or even necessary, in order to address the AU$1.5 billion that was overclaimed under CHC 4b. The existing system has been abused by certain providers, supplying residents with inadequate care while collecting large sums of funding. This 'production line' approach is little more than the commodification of the elderly, and it's hardly surprising that it has been addressed in the budget.
Read on to find out more about the proposed changes, and how they may affect providers and Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs).
Essentially mandating 30 minutes per client, the new system places an increased importance on each resident receiving what they need.
Changes to the system
The process to be implemented consists of two stages, the first of which - Part A - comes into effect from July 1, 2016. Part A will lower indexation of the CHC domain to 50 percent for 2016-17, although this will return to 100 percent from 2017-18. Additionally, there will be some changes to the CHC scoring matrix, though these are only temporary until the end of 2016, at which point Part B of the new system will be rolled out.
Part B will introduce a completely redesigned scoring matrix, along with changes to eligibility requirements and scoring. It's important to note that these new rules will only apply to new appraisals and reappraisals, with existing assessments remaining the same.
Perhaps the most important part of these changes is the new regulations surrounding 4b care. To quote the Department of Health, under the proposed system 4b's score "will be reduced from 6 points to 4 and in addition, a timing requirement will be added requiring 120 minutes of delivery of treatment over a week." This effectively outlaws the 'production line' approach, where some physiotherapists have as many as 80 residents to look after. By essentially mandating 30 minutes per client, the new system makes those numbers completely impossible, placing an increased importance on each resident receiving what they need.
How will this affect me?
This is the question that many RACFs are asking themselves at the moment, and in a nutshell, it depends on their external providers. A physiotherapy program can still generate profits and be financially stable, as long as it is compliant. This may be a problem for certain providers, but fortunately for Australian Health Professionals, our model is ethical, sustainable, and most importantly, easily adaptable to the new system.
With roughly 30-35 residents per physio, we'll have no problem meeting the new standards, and retaining financial viability. This means that for our clients, the changes to come over the next few years will pass smoothly and without any hiccups.
It is also worth reiterating that existing appraisals and claims will remain valid, even after the new system is implemented. These services will continue to be provided, supported, and validated by Australian Health Professionals. This is key to a consistent physiotherapy service, which is set to become more important than ever with a significant sum of money being set aside for increases in auditing.
To learn more about the ACFI changes that have been outlined in this article, or to find out more about how Australian Health Professionals can help providers to supply compliant, sustainable care, get in contact with our expert team today.