Federal Government announces ‘shadow assessment’ of new AN-ACC funding model to start in 2021 – but providers question unknown cost impact

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The Department of Health has revealed that the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) will move to its next phase of development – but providers say the cost weights for the new model which was developed by academics are unclear, leaving them in the dark on what its true financial impact will be.

A ‘shadow assessment’ process will start in the first half of 2021, undertaking independent care assessments for all new and existing permanent residential aged care residents using the AN-ACC assessment tool.

“ACFI will continue to operate during this period and will be the mechanism through which funding assessments continue to be made,” the Department said in an update.

“The AN-ACC shadow assessment process will not impact on funding received by providers in relation to care recipients.”

Assessment process to prepare for Royal Commission findings

The Department says this process is required to ensure the Government will be able to “respond flexibly” to the Royal Commission’s Final Report.

“It does not reflect final decisions to shift to the AN-ACC funding model, but rather a proactive approach to ensuring reform options are available to replace the outdated ACFI,” they say.

The Commissioners have indicated that they will recommend the ACFI model be removed as soon as possible – though they have not shown particular support for the AN-ACC either.

A request for tender is now open for one or more assessment management organisations to undertake the shadow assessment process over a year with another tender to be put up for a provider to deliver training to the AN-ACC shadow assessors.

No restart for trial suspended in March

Interestingly, the Department says they have canned the ongoing AN-ACC trial that was suspended in March this year due to COVID, saying the trial was “very successful” with just under 7,400 residents assessed.

However, providers have expressed concern to us that the AN-ACC was developed by academics and there has only been limited assessment of the model.

“The industry is unable to cost the impact on any facility as the cost weights are unknown,” one CEO told us. “The Pilot was cut short and the Department does not seem to have enough to consider this as a new model.”

In particular, the cost weights of the model are unknown – so providers are unable to cost the impact on their facilities.

Will this shadow assessment provide more clarity?

We will have more for you on this issue next week.