Hazzard disowns ACAT privatisation
The NSW Liberal Party’s Health Minister joined State Labor ministers in criticising the ACAT privatisation. The Aged Care Royal Commissioner was not happy, either.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has twice criticised the federal government for its determination to privatise Aged Care Assessment Teams.
“NSW has major concerns,” Mr Hazzard said in December. “It seems pre-emptive and unreasonable to be effectively privatising health aged care services while the Royal Commission into Aged Care is still under way. Not a lot of logic there.”
Mr Hazzard returned to the issue in January, saying it made no sense to involve a private service.
“My understanding is that there is not one state or territory leader who is in agreement with any involvement of the private sector in making the complex and delicate decisions around our aged citizens’ assessments for support packages in their home,” he said.
Mr Hazzard said the NSW Government was “not happy” there was no consultation with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) before the decision was made.
“There has not been any discussion whatsoever between state, territory and federal ministers at COAG’s health ministers meeting, which is where a major reform like this needs to be discussed,” he said.
Mr Hazzard’s federal Liberal colleague, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, hit back, claiming the royal commission supported the privatisation move.
This earned a rebuke from the chair of the royal commission, Gaetano Pagone, QC.
Royal Commissioner rubbishes federal government’s claim
Commissioner Pagone said the commission’s interim report “did not endorse the government’s stated position” on privatising ACATs.
“Public concern has been expressed about statements made by the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians that we had decided to support the privatisation of the Aged Care Assessment Teams in our interim report,” he noted.
In an interim report last year, the Royal Commission voiced concern about the aged care system’s increasing reliance on “market forces”.
“It is a myth that aged care is an effective consumer-driven market,” the interim report said.
Victorian Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Luke Donnellan, said his government was concerned by “the rush to privatisation”.
Queensland Acting Health Minister, Leanne Enoch, said privatisation “will not improve services for (elderly) Queenslanders and in fact could make the system more fragmented and harder to navigate.”
Ms Enoch added: “The Common-wealth thinks a market-led solution is the answer to every problem.”
“The reality is health systems are better placed to make the clinical assessments required to ensure people receive funding packages that reflect their needs.”