Providers pay a heavy price for NDIS bureaucracy

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There are plenty of news stories on people with disability being left out of pocket, anxious and even hospitalised due to the stress of dealing with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

But the people with a disability are not the only ones suffering -  the service-providers endure a bureaucratic nightmare just to get paid, too.

There are currently around 12,600 registered providers in Australia. All must navigate the fearsome NDIS Price Guide every time they invoice for any service.

This Guide – a bean counter’s dream – is a 280-page compendium of hundreds of price tables, yielding over 2,500 line items.

It’s up to the provider to identify the correct price and support item reference number; else the NDIS refuses to pay them.

The complexity can result in a mistake which can potentially hit the viability of their business. And consequently some people don’t get the care they need.

Each price table relates to an exact set of variables: the category of service being rendered, the profession and designated NDIS registration group of the provider rendering it, and the State or Territory where they rendered it.

And if the service happens to be supplied beyond our main population hubs, the provider must accurately decide whether the area is ‘Remote’ or ‘Very Remote’.

How? NDIS suggests bush-based providers check something called the Modified Monash Model. It’s a handy but very-hard-to-find online tool that classifies nearly 16,000 Australian locations on a one-to-five scale of geographic isolation.

NDIS unhelpfully provides no link. I eventually found it on the Australian Department of Health portal for GPs.

But once the right table has been found, the real fun begins. The hapless provider then needs to identify the line item.

For this, there are three specified Support Purposes and eight Outcome Domains, which in turn relate to a sub-set of 15 support categories.

Once the codes for the support category, support item, registration group, domain group, unit of measure and funding type have been found, there’s an added layer of complexity over whether the service was quotable.

It’s a hell of a lot of administration, just to get paid for a service they’ve already provided in good faith.

We also have to consider, what will this level of NDIS-induced stress and aggravation do to the mental health and wellbeing of our care-providers?

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