Productivity Commission Warns on NDIS Costs

By Andrew Heaton

(image source: The Telegraph)

The success and financial sustainability of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is in jeopardy thanks largely to the speed of the rollout, the Productivity Commission has warned.

Releasing its position paper on NDIS costs, the Commission said tat trial and transition data indicates that costs associated with the scheme are broadly on track and within long-term modelling from the National Disability Insurance Agency and noted that the agency had adopted strategies to address emerging cost pressures such as higher numbers of children entering the scheme compared with what had been expected.

Furthermore, it noted that benefits associated with the scheme are becoming apparent, with early evidence suggesting that many scheme participants were receiving greater levels of support and more choice and control compared with what had been the case under previous arrangements.

“Nevertheless, the speed of the NDIS rollout, as specified in Bilateral Agreements between governments, has put the scheme’s success and financial sustainability at risk,” it said. “It has resulted in the NDIA focusing too much on meeting participant intake estimates and not enough on planning processes, supporting infrastructure and market development.”

“This focus is manifest in poor outcomes such as confusion for many participants about planning processes; rushed phone planning conversations; inadequate pre-planning support for participants; problems for providers with registering, pricing and receiving payment; and a lack of effective communication with both participants and providers.”

In its report, the Commission said the NDIA needed to find a better balance between participant intake, the quality of plans, participant outcomes, and financial sustainability.

This included more emphasis on pre-planning, in-depth planning conversations, plan quality reporting, and more specialised training for planners.

The Commission also warned about risks associated with the interface between the NDIS and other disability services as well as the need to beef up the disability support workforce.

Some disability supports were not being provided because of unclear boundaries about the responsibilities of different levels of government, it warned.

Meanwhile, current policy settings were unlikely to deliver sufficient numbers of providers and workers as the scheme rolls out, it said.

All up, it is believed that the disability support workforce will need to expand from about 80,000 in 2016 to about 160,000 in order to meet demands associated with the full rollout of the scheme by 2019.

The report follows an earlier acknowledgement from the NDIA that whits systems and processes have not delivered the participant and provider experience during the transition to the scheme that was warranted and expected.

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