Increased medical rebates, an independent tribunal to set the age pension, an end to the waiting list for home care packages and bringing politicians’ super in line with the rest of the community top the list for what National Seniors Australia wants in the new year of 2020.
The country’s peak membership organisation for older Australians has given its wish list to the government via its submission for next year’s Federal Budget.
Among the other items listed in the submission are:
- Increased rental assistance for pensioners
- Lower deeming and taper rates on the Age Pension
- An adult dental benefit scheme
- And a scheme for older Australians to invest in green energy infrastructure.
National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke says the rising cost of health, especially the cost of seeing a specialist, is the number one concern among members.
“On average a patient will be $84 out of pocket when they see a specialist, compared to around $38 for a visit to the GP,” he said.
“Older Australians by far spend the largest proportion of household income on medical expenses.”
Despite the last week’s announcement for extra aged care funding, National Seniors continues to call for an end to the home care package waiting list, a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Mr Henschke says the $496 million announced last week for extra home care packages was barely a fifth of the $2.5 billion identified in the Royal Commission to fix the problem
“Last year 16,000 people died waiting for a home care package and more than 13,000 were placed into an aged care facility when they wanted to remain in their homes.
“We know what the figure is to fix it and yet the government is still well short of the mark,” Mr Henschke said.
He also says it’s time the government took the politics out of the pension with an independent tribunal setting the Age Pension.
“Successive governments on both sides have been balancing the budget on the backs of pensioners.
“The deeming and taper rates are too high while savings returns for pensioner are too low.
“Governments use the deeming and taper rates to get their hands in pensioners’ pockets and a pension rate set independently would put an end to the politics of the pension.”
National Seniors also believes the politicians’ superannuation guarantee rate should be brought in line with that of ordinary workers in the interest of fairness.
Currently MPs and Senators receive a SG rate of 15.4%, while ordinary workers receive a SG rate of 9.5%.
National Seniors Australia says in its submission;
“At a time when politicians are calling for spending restraint and for further delays in increasing the SG to 12%, it would be symbolic if politicians moved to align their own entitlements with the current SG.”
Finally, National Seniors is proposing an innovative way which gives safe returns for older Australians while at the same time funding green energy infrastructure.
The Snowy Hydro Green Bonds Scheme would give older Australians the opportunity to invest safely in Snowy Hydro 2.0, contributing to future energy security and lower energy prices.
“It’s win-win for investors, the government and the environment,” said Mr Henschke
The 15-page document has been handed to the government well in time for consideration ahead of next May’s budget.