Audit Commission targets the family home

Older Australians have described the Commission of Audit’s targeting of the family home in pension and aged care means tests and new or increased health co-payments as ‘extreme’.

Including the family home in the age pension and aged care means tests; a $15 co-payment for all Medicare funded health services; and increased PBS co-payments are only four of 86, often controversial, Commission of Audit recommendations released publically today.

National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said the recommendations demonstrated just how far out of touch with ordinary Australians the Commission was.

“The family home is routinely low hanging fruit for economists,” said O’Neill. “They underestimate the social, personal and cultural value of the family home”.

“Australians won’t wear it being used to pay off government debt”.

He also described the value thresholds placed on the family home by the Commission of Audit ($750,000 for couples and $500,000 for singles) as unrealistic.

“In what capital city can you find a family home for $500,000? Pensioners in every state would be decimated by the proposed means test.”

In the health area, he warned that seniors with chronic or multiple health conditions would be crippled by the extent and depth of proposed charges.

“Older Australians showed some acceptance for a $6 GP fee but $15 across all Medicare funded health services, coupled with higher PBS co-payments is unreasonable,” he said.

“There are laudable efficiencies in the report, but these are overshadowed by the more extreme proposals,” he said.

Specifically the Audit Commission recommends:

  • Increasing the superannuation preservation age to five years below the pension age (62 by 2027)
  • Changing pension indexation arrangements
  • Increasing the pension age to 70 by around 2053
  • Including the full value of the family home in the current aged care means test
  • Introducing a single means test to the Age Pension which would include the family home above a threshold from 2027
  • Private health insurance for higher income earners for basic health services instead of Medicare
  • General patient $15 co-payments for all Medicare funded services; $5 for concession card holders
  • Increasing the General Extended Medicare Safety Net to $4000

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