The Board of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has given in principle support to the Independent Pricing Review Report’s 25 recommendations. These include:

  • Adding a third tier to the complexity loading to account for higher level skills or experience of workers and additional training required;
  • Allowing providers to charge up to 45 minutes of travel time in rural areas;
  • Allowing providers to quote on the delivery of services in isolated regions;
  • Changing the cancellation policy to allow providers to recover 90 per cent of their costs if a cancellation is made after 3pm on the day before the service;
  • Removing the annual $1000 travel cap for therapy supports and aligning the travel policy with the attendant care travel policy;
  • Changing therapy prices to better reflect different therapy types, and introducing a second tier of pricing for therapy assistants;
  • Introducing temporary overhead assistance equivalent to a 2 to 3 per cent loading on the price for providers delivering attendant care for the next 12 months.

Other recommendations relate to price limits, interventions to address specific market challenges, and improvements in market monitoring and engagement.

NDIA chairman, Dr Helen Nugent said the report highlights the challenges facing not just the NDIA, but also those issues that some providers are dealing with in making the transition from block funding to the participant-led NDIS.

In a statement NDIA CEO Rob De Luca said: “The NDIA is mindful of the pressures faced by some providers who are challenged by the complexity and pace of the roll-out of the NDIS.  We are committed to working with them to ensure a vibrant market for disability supports that enables participants to achieve better outcomes.  A vibrant and financially viable provider market is essential to the longer-term sustainability of the scheme.  The IPR recommendations will help achieve those objectives”.

De Luca said participants will benefit from having service levels and expertise more tailored to their needs.  Participants with complex and psycho-social disabilities, along with those in rural and remote areas should gain greater access to the services and level of support they require. “If providers are stronger, all participants will benefit”. He added that implementation will be phased so that those recommendations that produce the greatest benefit will be actioned first.

To support implementation of the recommendations, the NDIA will establish a Pricing Committee, to help provide greater transparency and an active monitoring of pricing decisions to adequately meet the needs of participants.

The program of work that has emerged from the IPR sits side by side with other initiatives being undertaken by the NDIA.  These include a review of Participant and Provider Pathways, which is now well advanced and being piloted prior to a full roll out, as well as the development of the enhanced Provider Finder.  Separately, work is underway to enhance market communications around delivering Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).

The NDIA Board commissioned McKinsey & Company to undertake an independent review in June 2017 in response to market feedback that some providers were under pressure during transition and that the potential existed that the needs of participants would not be met.

McKinsey & Company stated in their report that the “recommendations will have a positive impact on provider economics, improving overall industry margins by 2 to 4 per cent, with even higher margin improvements for providers serving participants with complex needs or in rural, remote and very remote areas”.

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