Aged care puts profits before people

Australia's largest for-profit aged care providers are receiving billions in public money and are paying minimal tax, but cry poor at any mention of mandating staff-to-resident ratios. Something doesn't add up.

A new report by the Tax Justice Network found that the six largest for-profit aged care providers including Bupa, Opal, Regis, Estia, Japara and Allity were given over $2.17 billion in government subsidies and between them made a total profit of $210 million in the 2016-17 financial year.

But this didn't stop them teaming up with aged care lobby groups recently to complain that government funding was inadequate, reporting that 41% of residential aged care providers were making a loss.

While rural and remote facilities may struggle more for cash, it certainly isn't the case for these aged care giants. In fact it turns out they are using tricks and loopholes to lower their taxable incomes and minimise their tax contributions.

While this may seem unscrupulous, it isn't always illegal, which begs the question can we trust unregulated for-profit motives with the care of vulnerable people?

In many cases making profit accumulates at the expense of delivering quality care. For example, wages eat into revenue but having a safe level of staff is crucial to providing the necessary amount of care.

One thing is for sure, without proper transparency and accountability, there are firms that are taking advantage of loose government oversight and lack of regulation.

Since the release of this new report, a Senate inquiry has been announced to investigate the allegations of multinational tax avoidance among Australia's largest for-profit nursing home providers.