Minister clarifies issues relating to NDIS therapy support pricing

Members will be aware that Speech Pathology Australia, along with other allied health peak bodies, has been actively working to resolve major concerns raised with the Independent Pricing Review undertaken by McKinsey Group on behalf of the NDIA Board last year.

On Saturday 30 March, the Minister for Families and Social Services announced outcomes from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Board meeting relating to therapy support pricing.

Major outcomes for the 2019-20 pricing guide are:

  • Tiered pricing for therapy supports based on client complexity will NOT be introduced.
    • Pricing for allied health services will be set at the increased rate of $190 per hour (plus indexation). 
    • There will be a higher price limit for psychology services nationally of $210, and a differential rate for Physiotherapy ($210) and Psychology ($230) in states with thin-market for these professions ( NT, SA and WA).
  • Increased pricing for Allied Health Assistants with this to move to a two-tiered payment scale of $55ph and $85ph. NDIA is yet to create the definitions and descriptions to differentiate between the two levels but has undertaken to work with the professional peak bodies in the next three months to set these. (A third, higher priced tier may also be trialled for remote areas, but no further detail is available at this time).
  • Travel and cancellations will also be subject to finalisation after further discussion with the allied health peaks.
  • This year a separate pricing guide will be prepared and made available for participants and their carers to ensure the process is more open and transparent for recipients of NDIS service. NDIA has committed to consult the professions on the development of this.

In order to access the new price limits for therap, providers will have to comply with terms that will be outlined in the 2019‒20 NDIS Price Guide. These terms will include:

  • publishing their service prices for NDIS clients
  • listing their business contact details in the Provider Finder and ensuring those details are kept up-to-date
  • participating annually in an Agency-approved market benchmarking survey.

These measures aim to promote greater transparency for participants seeking to engage providers. They will also inform future pricing decisions and give providers comparative information about pricing.

As an additional strategy to support the NDIS market, the federal government has provided Transition Assistance Funding which providers delivering services or seeking registration under the NDIS can apply for. The funding is valued at up to $20,000 and can be applied for after completing a self-assessment. Applications close 26 April 2019.

The Association will continue to liaise with the NDIA to inform reviews of pricing, including where data indicates there is a thin market for speech pathology services, and where a price differential should also be applied.

The Association believes the changes to the approved changes to therapy support pricing in the 2019/2020 pricing guide go some way to supporting better market sustainability in the disability sector and is pleased that the NDIA has listened to the allied health sector following the Independent Pricing Review. The Association will continue to work with NDIA on behalf of the profession to resolve outstanding pricing detail over the next three months.

In meetings held with peak bodies, including the Association, prior to the announcement on Saturday, the NDIA indicated that the current pricing changes will not be a ‘set and forget’ and that the process for benchmarking prices will be further refined. The NDIA also provided assurance that the allied health peak bodies will have the opportunity to be more actively involved in workforce and pricing discussions in the lead up to the development of the next (2020-21) pricing guide.

The Association will continue to actively engage with the NDIA and ministers to ensure the best outcome for NDIS providers, participants and their carers.