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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Keating fronts aged care royal commission

Former prime minister Paul Keating has appeared before the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety today, as seven days of hearings commence to inquire into the financing and sustainability of Australia’s future aged care system.

Mr Keating told the Commission that it was unfair to expect younger Australians to fund aged care through their taxes, given Australia’s rapidly increasing aged population.

“The number of people left in the tax system to support all this is falling,” Mr Keating said.

“Is it unreasonable that elderly people rely on assets and accumulations to meet the cost, or should it be put to people in tax system to bear the burden of it?”

Mr Keating will be joined this week by former Treasurer, Peter Costello, who is expected to speak about long-term financing reforms that could support Australia’s ageing population.

The hearing is also set to hear presentations from consumer bodies, aged care providers with different scale and operating models, industry analysts, economists, experts in comparative systems, former and current Treasury officials, lenders, and the regulator, the Commission said in a statement.

Former Secretary of the Treasury, Ken Henry is expected to give evidence about the options for reform of the aged care sector and how these intersect with opportunities to support long term financing.

Leading consumer representatives, Ian Yates AM of COTA Australia, Paul Versteege of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association NSW and Professor John McCallum of National Seniors Australia, will give evidence about the consumer interest in reform of aged care funding and financing, including how the costs of aged care should be shared across the community.

The Commissioners will hear evidence about lessons that Australia might learn from international experience to support the financing of its long term care, including about Japan from Professor Naoki Ikegami and the Netherlands from Associate Professor Pieter Bakx.

The Commissioners will also hear from Professor Mike Woods, Lead Commissioner in the Productivity Commission’s 2011 inquiry, Caring for Older Australians, Mike Callaghan AM PSM, chair of the Aged Care Financing Authority and chair of the recent Retirement Incomes Review, and leading academics and economists Professor Michael Sherris, Professor John Piggott, Professor Flavio Menezes, Professor Stephen Gray and Professor Henry Cutler.

Professor Kathy Eagar will give evidence about how to structure funding arrangements for the aged care system, and the interaction between funding arrangements and the operation of the aged care system more broadly.

Mr James Downie, CEO of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority will explain aspects of hospital funding that may hold insights for aged care.

The hearing is also expected to involve consideration of a number of expert reports obtained by the Royal Commissioners for the purposes of their inquiry.

“Over the course of the seven day hearing, evidence will be heard about whether the funding available to providers under the current aged care system is properly quantified to support the provision of high quality aged care; and whether, how, and by whom should the levels of government subsidies and private fees for aged care services be determined, and what approaches may be appropriate to protect consumer interests and public funds in the absence of effective competition between providers for some services and in some areas,” the Commission said.

“Questions around whether the prudential regulation regime that applies to aged care providers is adequate to ensure the sustainability, stability and transparency of the aged care system will also be asked, and what changes, if any, may need to be made to improve the prudential regulation of aged care services.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public and media can follow proceedings on the live webcast- external site on the Royal Commission website. The witness list for the hearing is now available.

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