Tuesday, August 16, 2016

NDIS Portal Glitch Stretches to 8 Weeks

Glitches with the National Disability Insurance Agency’s portal and payment system are persisting with many service providers and NDIS participants questioning the Government’s lack of action.
The National Census website, which was brought down by alleged hack attempts, was immediately scheduled for investigation and repair to bring the site back online. In comparison the NDIS portal, through which participants manage their funds and make payments to their providers, has been working inconsistently for the last 8 weeks. As the weeks roll by one starts to wonder if the delays are a reflection of the Government’s commitment to the NDIS.

The Australian reported that some providers have had to turn away patients due to the delays in payment;
Speech pathologist Diana Bleby said she was owed more than $5000 by the NDIS and was now drawing on a line of credit to sustain her practice in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
“I don’t work as a speech pathologist to earn the big bucks,” Ms Bleby said. “We get some payments from the NDIS but it’s highly unpredictable. My line-of-credit loan is getting less and less flexible and I need to pay rent and contractors.” (Puddy, 2016)

Where will this leave patients? It is more likely than not that the patients have had to sit on waiting lists in the first place  just to be seen by their providers  and now they face cancelled appointments and breaks in treatment because providers can not afford to continue working without payment.  As a break in treatment could have devastating effects on a patient’s progress, many families are being forced to pay for treatments themselves to avoid being thrown back on to a waiting list.

Kate Bradbrook's family includes two children who are eligible for NDIS funding, a 12-year-old and a five-year-old. The elder child had her plan approved before the end of June but despite a planning meeting, the younger child's approval has been delayed because of the glitch.

 "My planner told me to start booking therapy when we had our planning meeting," Ms Bradbrook said. "She said it wouldn't take long for his plan to be approved. It's ready to go, everything's done, but because of the current issues with the system, his plan can't be approved."

Ms Bradbrook said NDIS told her any therapy he had received would not be covered until his plan was approved. "I'm probably up to $1,000 out of pocket, which I've been told won't be reimbursed," she said. (Waldhuter, 2016)

Unfortunately it seems that the general public’s disregard for people with disability resonates with the Government. How else can we explain the difference in the way that the census website was dealt with? Is it that the Census is a money-making endeavour where the NDIS is seen as a drain on the public purse or is there a more deep-seated issue at hand? With the NDIS we were told that PWD would finally have a voice; we can HIRE our own providers and we can FIRE them if they don’t live up to standards. The promise of self-determination and self-management, through the use of the NDIS Portal, has ended up in a huge technological bungle and no one who can do anything about it seems to care.

For too long PWD have been pushed to the fringe of society; we have been told we need to be grateful for what we get and not to complain about poor service levels. The introduction of the NDIS is the biggest change to the social services landscape since the introduction of the universal healthcare system in the 1970s.  It promised increased funding, autonomy and integration. It promised that PWD would be in control of their lives and their futures. Sadly these glitches have, at least temporarily, taken away the promise of self-management and replaced it with worrying delays and unexpected expense.

The Government needs to reassert its commitment to the NDIS by ensuring the portal is fully functioning and by taking the concerns of PWD and service providers seriously.

On the 5th August Minister for Social Services and Disability Services Christian Porter announced a review of the implementation of NDIS IT system would be undertaken and has made assurances that what they deem as the ‘central issues’ with the portal have already been resolved.

The NDIA has advised that service providers will be compensated for the delays in payment and that affected parties can contact the NDIA on 1800 800 110 to discuss.

Works Cited

Puddy, R. (2016, August 4). Cash-strapped providers ‘turn away patients’ due to NDIS bungle. The Australian. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/health/cashstrapped-providers-turn-away-patients-due-to-ndis-bungle/news-story/6d412d8af84c1a9e12fa3d6816f6088b
Waldhuter, L. (2016, August 10). NDIS providers entering eighth week without payment as families face approval delays. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-10/ndis-providers-entering-their-eighth-week-without-payment/7711754