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NDIA announce 6 month extension to group supports pricing transition

Huge news for everyone delivering group services from Core who has been preparing for the 1 July 2023 transition to the apportioned pricing model. 

By Rob Woolley

Updated 15 Apr 20248 May 2023

Huge news for everyone delivering group services from Core who has been preparing for the 1 July 2023 transition to the apportioned pricing model.  Effective 5 May 2023, the NDIA has announced a number of changes to the original transition plans, including:

  • A six month extension to the transition date, meaning providers now have until 31 December 2023 to move to the new pricing model. Providers can still only use either the transitional or new pricing model though, meaning that when one of your group services moves over then they all have to move over.
  • An increase in the maximum duration of a Program of Support from 12 weeks to six months, provided the person has an opportunity to regularly review the Program
  • “Clarification” to the rules around Non-Face-to-Face, to make it easier for providers to group some activities together for ease of billing. It’s not entirely clear what clarification has been provided, however, as there is no new detail in the new document. Perhaps this will come out with the Provider Handbook we’ve been eagerly awaiting since December 2022.

The big news is obviously the six month extension to the deadline. Providers who are currently looking at the mountain of work that is needed to transition to the new pricing model will have more time to complete that work. 

Most providers will be grateful for the extra time to prepare and implement the new pricing model. So call me a whinging Pom but I have to say: haven’t we been here before? This feels like Groundhog Day. This is the fourth time the NDIA has set a firm deadline for this transition and then at the last minute granted an extension. Every extension doesn’t make the act of transitioning easier, it just kicks the can down the road. That’s only useful if providers can use that extra time to do the work, but we know how easily other things take up that space. We know many providers that have committed to the original deadlines and done the work, at the expense of other important projects in their organisations. 

The sector has been crying out for more guidance and diligently highlighting all the challenges with the new pricing model for three years. If new realisations have come to light to prompt this extension and changes to the pricing model, there is something very broken with how the NDIA listens to the sector. Or they’ve been listening intently the whole time - they reference extensive sector consultation in late 2022 but we know these concerns were aired well before then - but don’t have any ideas on how this will work in practice. There hasn’t been these kinds of delays and goalposts-moving in significant transitions for other service types. It’s destabilising and disruptive for group service providers still getting back on their feet after the impacts of Covid restrictions and lockdowns.

But enough of that doom and gloom - let’s look at the positives! More time to transition means more time for providers to produce guidance for participants, transform back-end systems, evolve workforce information and processes and redesign group services to reflect the new pricing model. So still lots of work to be done. 

This extension is a golden opportunity for providers to regroup, reassess their plans for transitioning to the new model, liaise with other providers going through the same thing (or even those providers that have already transitioned), consider what needs to change in finance and quality systems, and strengthen plans for communicating the changes with participants. In short: there’s lots to do so don’t simply pause the work for several months.

But the first step is to make a cup of tea and digest all the changes in the Pricing Arrangements update. The NDIA will run presentations to explain the new pricing model and how it will work in practice. For support to think through implementation, check out our 1 hour workshop series for group support providers, or our session for Support Coordinators and Plan Managers to understand how the changes will affect their roles.

Authors

Rob Woolley

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