AAPi is a member of Allied Health Professions Australia, the peak body for allied health professions. Together with AHPA, we are working on NDIS advocacy. Please see the below update regarding our collective work regarding the NDIS.
The recent outcomes of the NDIS Annual Pricing Review are disappointing for allied health. AHPA, members and other therapy support providers engaged extensively in the Review consultation process, and the Final Report acknowledged that therapy supports have the potential to reduce long-term NDIS costs. Nevertheless, the National Disability Insurance Agency decided not to raise the price cap for therapy supports, and not to apply indexation from 1 July 2022. In comparison, price limits were increased for providers who employ disability support workers, and pricing for both those providers and NDIS nurses has been indexed.
The process of release and communication about the pricing review outcomes has also been unnecessarily stressful for our members, many of whom had to contend with items and omissions in the updated NDIS price guide which were only later described as errors and corrected by the NDIA. These mistakes included the deletion of a range of allied health services from lists of providers eligible to provide various NDIS supports.
AHPA has sought urgent meetings with Minister Bill Shorten and the Acting CEO of the NDIA to discuss these matters. AHPA’s Disability Working Group has also completed a background paper which takes issue with the NDIA’s findings and analysis of our arguments (to be published on the AHPA website).
The NDIA’s failure to ensure that therapy pricing stays in step with the cost of living shows a lack of understanding of the unique challenges faced by allied health practitioners, many of whom are not large providers, and with over a third being sole traders. The resulting impacts on therapy support provision will also run counter to the Scheme’s principles of choice and control for participants concerning the purchase of services they need. Participant utilisation of allied health supports is already significantly lower than the average utilisation rate for NDIS supports as a whole, and thin markets for allied health services are an ongoing vexed issue.
More alarmingly, the Final Report also flags a possible future decrease in the current price limits for therapy supports, subject to further NDIA comparisons of other government schemes such as DVA and WorkCover. This potential reduction, together with the decision not to apply indexation, does not take into account the highly specialised skill sets of allied health professionals working with people with disability, nor the high compliance and administrative burden of the NDIS as compared to other schemes.
The outcomes we seek from the Minister and the NDIA include a commitment to collaboratively engage with allied health at the earliest opportunity, in both the forthcoming Ministerial review of the NDIS and any further work on scheme comparison.
We will keep members updated on the outcomes of these meetings and activities.