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Government Cuts Financial Assistance .pdf

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Government Cuts Financial Assistance, Seniors Clog Up Hospitals

Seniors in Brisbane & beyond are being forced to stay in hospitals instead of
being given proper aged care, according to local government representatives in
Queensland and other states and territories. This has prompted stakeholders
to voice their concerns regarding key aged care issues in a senate inquiry
recently. Other problems include under-utilization of nurses and suggestions to
expand medicare-funded GP tele-health services.
The ACT Government talked to the Senate Select Committee on Health and
told them that an average of 30 patients from public hospitals everyday need
to have an access to aged care services. This delay in moving to aged care costs
hospitals $1,200 per day. The Canberra Hospital, for instance, has been
experiencing a surge of aged care type patients for the past two years, while
increase in the average length of stay has been felt too. The South Australian
Government also stated in the senate hearing that patients who are
overstaying in hospitals longer than clinically appropriate should be of primary
The termination in the Federal Budget of the National Partnership Agreement
on Financial Assistance for Long Stay Older Patients last May had some serious
effects on Australian states and territories. This $42 million initiative used to
cover up for the costs of older patients who need longer stays in the hospital.
The Queensland Government, in particular, told the inquiry that the
Commonwealth Governments have fallen short of funding sufficient aged care
beds, especially in rural and regional areas.
They further elaborated that people tend to overstay in hospitals because
there are no aged care services available or they are waiting for their finances
to get settled before they can move to nursing homes. In Cairns Hospital and
Health Service region alone, there are around 60 to 70 beds currently occupied
by overstaying older patients.
The Australian Medical Association pointed out to the inquiry that there is a
need for the aged care sector to be properly recognised as a part of the health
system and medical care sector. The significant numbers of doctors who are

soon retiring in Australia also pose some threats in the availability of workforce
dedicated to aged care residents. This should be included in facility and health
care planning.
The proposed GP co-payment
The ACSA and LASA alerted the inquiry about the possible negative effects of
the proposed $7 co-payment imposed to older people for their access to
medical services. ACSA is concerned that not all older people can afford the $7
Medicare co-payment and thus, making them skip their medical treatments.
LASA also said that the co-payment process is an added task on aged care
providers and will possibly incur significant cost.
ACSA’s submission also called for falls prevention programs that should be
implemented at a national level. The rate of falls and hospitalisations due to
falls in Australia is increasing and this costs the government a whopping $8.4
billion per year. The entire expenditure the government spends on aged care
system is $13 billion. According to ACSA, falls prevention programs would be a
good public policy to reduce risks, especially now that people are living longer.

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