The Coalition is moving ahead on plans to merge the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) and Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) into a single “streamlined” service by putting the ACATs up for public tender this year.
David Tune first recommended the move in his 2017 Legislated Review of Aged Care and the Royal Commission into Aged Care also concluded in its Interim Report that the current assessment arrangements result in duplication and inefficiency for many older Australians.
Under the current model which has operated for 30 years, ACATs include nurses, geriatricians and social workers are employed in the state-run public hospital system – with funding provided by the Federal Government.
These teams complete over 400,000 assessments every year for residential care and home care, but the new arrangements would mean private organisations – including potentially providers themselves – would be able to bid to carry out assessments.
But the states are not happy with the plan with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (pictured) telling the Sydney Morning Herald that: “It seems pre-emptive and unreasonable to be effectively privatising health aged care services while the Royal Commission into Aged Care is still underway. Not a lot of logic there.”
The Government however says the change will improve efficiency – and we suspect their bottom line too.