Despite the lack of specific information relating to residential aged care, providers are pleased to see Budget 2018 deliver a big funding injection into health, including an extra $2.2 billion for District Health Boards (DHBs) over four years.

Health Minister Dr David Clark says it is the largest DHB funding increase in the last decade.

“We all know DHBs have been starved of funding in recent years. That’s put pressure on staff and facilities – and put the squeeze on services delivered to the public,” says David Clark.

New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) chief executive Simon Wallace says it’s not a bad Budget in terms of meeting expectations around health.

“However what we’d like to see is more specific information on how that DHB money will be allocated.”

Julie Haggie from the Home and Community Health Association agrees, saying that the sector is concerned with how the DHBs will approach cost pressure funding for home care providers.

Wallace says the additional DHB funding puts residential aged care providers in a good position for negotiations going forward. Providers are in the process of negotiating with DHBs their subsidy level and the terms for the second year of pay equity. These will be finalised in the Age-Related Residential Care agreement in the coming weeks.

Wallace was pleased to see funding pegged for health initiatives that would serve the needs of older New Zealanders.

For example, the cost of GP appointments for all holders of a Community Services Card would be cut by up to $30, an initiative that will help many older people, as would the winter energy payment scheme, and the funding earmarked for elective surgeries.

One million dollars has been set aside to develop a free annual health check – including an eye check – for all SuperGold card-holders, as agreed in coalition negotiations. However, Wallace is disappointed that this initiative is not up and running sooner.

Budget 2018 also included $210 million over five years for disability support services to cover population growth, ageing and cost pressures.

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