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What If Donald Trump had his way with aged care in Australia

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So you think, as I do, that the upshot from the Royal Commission into aged care will result in more regulation.

But, ask yourselves this – What would Donald Trump do if confronted by the anticipated findings? The direct opposite, it seems.

It was recently revealed that he wants to reduce the ‘burden’ of regulation on nursing home operators by relaxing the rules governing their operations. This would effectively mean a rolling back of the rules that currently apply to nursing homes in the US.

The rationale is the old ‘trickle down’ syndrome. This policy mindset has resulted, for example, in him reducing tax on business with the intention that lower tax costs to business would result in various downstream benefits such as more business investment and even higher wages.

Trump is applying the same model to aged care. He apparently proposes reducing regulation in the industry with the effect of saving nursing home operators some $600 million. And, it is argued, that will have the inevitable effect of freeing up funds to improve resident care – a form of reverse osmosis or so the theory goes.

Here is an example of one of the current regulations proposed to be relaxed taken from an article in WBUR News:

  • Currently if a resident of a nursing home gets a prescription for an antipsychotic drug (chemical restraint by another phrase), it cannot be renewed after two weeks without a doctor’s examination of the resident i.e., actually seeing them and assessing them
  • Under Trump’s proposal, the doctor could keep renewing the prescription without having to see the resident for another two months.

There will always be idealistic differences between the free marketeers and regulated marketeers in any sector of the economy. The difference is usually more in the extent of regulation as opposed to no regulation. However, aged care is not a manufacturer of things. It is a provider of services to a discrete group of consumers who are frail and, as a result, potentially vulnerable. It would be hard to envisage the Trump proposals getting any traction here or with the Royal Commission, wouldn’t it?

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