For the last six months or so, a consulting company has been carrying out a review into the prices set for services funded through the NDIS.
The review was established by the NDIA in June last year, after mounting criticism that providers were having trouble providing good quality services at some of the prices set by the NDIA.
The review was carried out by an independent company, who talked to more than 1000 people around Australia. The people they talked to included providers, peak bodies and academics. The report does not say if they also talked to NDIS participants or their families.
The report makes 25 recommendations for change. The NDIA has said today that they accept all the recommendations. They say they will introduce some of the changes soon, while others will take longer.
Some of the recommendations include:
• Allowing providers to charge up to 45 minutes for travel to reach participants who live in rural areas. There would be changes to participant plans to cover this cost.
• Paying a higher price to workers who are supporting participants with very complex needs.
• Allowing providers to charge for writing reports if those reports have been requested by the NDIA.
• Allowing providers to recover 90 per cent of their costs if a cancellation is made after 3pm on the day before a booking.
• Introducing new prices for therapy assistants.
• More help for participants so they can find providers more easily.
• Introducing a temporary payment to help providers cover the cost of administration.
There are also a number of recommendations about the NDIA watching the market more carefully to make sure participants can purchase services, particularly in areas where there are only a small number of providers.
Interestingly, the report also says there isn’t any evidence that there is a shortage of services yet – but in some areas there is a high risk there will be shortages in the future.
Obviously there is a lot of detail in the 100 page report that service providers will be interested in. But people with disability and their families also care very much about the quality and availability of services.
People with disability want to be able to find providers more easily. They want to be able to choose services that work best for them. They also care that staff have the right experience and skills to be able to support them well.
We will keep watching as the NDIA introduces changes over the coming months, and let you know how things are going.
In the meantime you can read the full report and the NDIA’s response in the NDIS website – https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/ipr-report.html