People who have saved rather than spending all their money as soon as they get it are to be penalized by not getting the same retirement benefits as the shiftless. And since those who have saved have almost certainly put more into the system by way of taxes, it is doubly unfair
SELF-FUNDED retirees and part-pensioners will be forced to pay more for aged care under means tests from July 2014. But seniors will be protected against over-charging by life time fee caps of $60,000 and new rules to limit costs.
Family homes will be spared from new means tests as long as they have a family member living in them.
The changes are part of a $3.7 billion overhaul of aged care announced by the Gillard Government yesterday to prepare the "creaking" system for growing demand from ageing Baby Boomers.
Julia Gillard said the changes would address a "crisis" in aged care that saw a massive shortage of care packages and expensive upfront bonds imposed on nursing home residents.
She defended the new means tests, saying they would ensure people paid what they could afford. "For the first time in aged care, fairness will also get a look in," Ms Gillard said. "For too long, pensioners have had to subsidise those who are much better off. "Those who can support themselves and contribute a bit more should, and we must look after the needs of those who can't."
The aged-care shakeup would focus on helping older people stay at home and prevent those who go into residential care from being forced into fire sales of their family homes, Ms Gillard said.
More elderly people will be able to live in their homes after the Government creates about 40,000 new subsidised home care packages over the next five years.
But for the first time, people receiving new at-home care will be hit with extra "care fees" of up to $5000 a year for part-pensioners and $10,000 for self-funded retirees earning more than $43,000 a year. The new charges will only affect people who need aged care for the first time after July 1, 2014.
Fee packages will come with cooling off periods in a bid to end the practice of elderly people being forced to sell their homes quickly to secure a nursing home place.
People who rely solely on the aged pension, who make up about 51 per cent of those in aged care now, will not pay any extra fees above current basic charges of up to 17.5 per cent of the single pension.
Accommodation charges and other fees will be assessed by a new Aged Care Financing Authority modelled on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority.