Government boosts prices for remote NDIS providers
26 June 2019 at 2:09 pm
Remote National Disability Insurance Scheme providers are set to benefit from major price rises but advocates have criticised a lack of clarity around what this means for participants.
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert on Tuesday announced a doubling in the loadings on price limits for remote and very remote services, and an increase in the provider travel claim cap from 1 July.
“The increases are part of the Independent Price Review – with its 25 recommendations having been progressively implemented since July 2018 with the aim of transitioning the NDIS market to cope with significant demand growth, improving efficiency and quality of care and reaching the longer-term goal of price deregulation,” Robert said.
Grassroots campaign Every Australian Counts – which has held a series of community forums across the country listening to the needs of NDIS participants – welcomed the pricing increase.
EAC director Kirsten Deane told Pro Bono News the campaign had heard a lot about people in regional and remote areas not being able to access services.
“We’ve heard some really terrible stories about people who have NDIS plans and haven’t spent a cent of them because they haven’t been able to get the services that they need,” Deane said.
“So anything that stimulates services in those areas is incredibly welcome.”
The NDIS website says funding in participant plans will be automatically adjusted from 1 July to reflect changes to indexation and the recent price increases for therapy, attendant care and community participation.
But Deane expressed concern there was no confirmation of increased funding in participant plans to cover the rising costs in remote areas caused by the changes.
She criticised the NDIA for a lack of clarity around what the changes mean for participants.
“The only statement on the NDIS website is that plans will be increased to cover indexation but there isn’t any information about how plans will be increased to cover these other changes,” she said.
“That’s really concerning to us. We need to know what impact that’s going to have on participants and their families using providers in remote areas. If providers are allowed to charge a loading how will participants’ plans be increased?”
But the NDIA has sought to assuage these fears, with a spokesperson telling Pro Bono News: “Existing plans that include remote and very remote services will be automatically adjusted to reflect the increase in loadings.
“Travel charges are included in a plan when they are agreed with the participant.”
Providers in remote areas will have their loading increased from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, while providers in very remote areas will have loading boosted from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.
The provider travel claim cap will increase from 20 minutes to 30 minutes in city areas and from 45 minutes to 60 minutes in the regions.
Certain providers will be able to access a Temporary Transformation Payment of 7.5 per cent for attendant care and community participation services, as they adjust to the NDIS market in their first year.
An hourly rate will also be implemented for non face-to-face services conducted on behalf of a participant.
National Disability Services acting CEO David Moody said while the new prices will better support the delivery of quality services throughout Australia, the timing of the changes were poor.
“While prices are starting to reflect some of the true costs of providing quality services for people with disability, this announcement is not going to miraculously fix all of the problems with the NDIS,” Moody said.
“The timing of this announcement also means that, although the new prices are to take effect from 1 July 2019, in reality many service providers will find it difficult to bed down the required changes to their business to apply the new prices by that date.”
But Andrew Richardson, a spokesperson for provider lobby group Alliance20 and the CEO of House with No Steps, said these changes positively built on the $850 million worth of price increases announced in March.
“We congratulate the federal government and NDIA for recognising and responding to the financial pressures being experienced by not-for-profit service providers under the NDIS,” Richardson said.
“The new prices will enable service providers to both continue providing necessary support services and also better plan for future service provision in a sustainable way.”