NDIS delays causes beds shortfall
TREASURER Jackie Trad is pushing for a new agreement for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in a bid to stop the state being hit with the more than $2 billion in contribution costs when almost half of eligible Queenslanders are yet to sign up.
It comes amid revelations 11 people with disabilities are unnecessarily taking up mental health beds in Brisbane northside hospitals, one for more than 500 days, because of long delays in accessing NDIS plans.
Most have intellectual disabilities or acquired brain injuries and are using scarce hospital beds meant for patients needing treatment for severe psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and major depression.
On average, they have been stuck in hospital beds for about 260 days and are among 400 people in Queensland hospitals ready for discharge but unable to leave until they receive an NDIS package.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Ms Trad has penned a letter to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg calling for an overhaul of the funding agreement for the NDIS based on actual numbers signed on with only about 50,000 of the 90,000 Queenslanders eligible expected to be signed on when the full scheme begins from July 1.
"Despite this the full scheme agreement proposed by the Australian Government largely ignores the transition performance in this state and would result in highly inequitable funding contributions in the early years of the full scheme," Ms Trad's letter states.
"Queensland would pay the lions share of package costs - up to 80 per cent in 2019/20 - while the Australian Government would benefit from underspends in the order of billions of dollars.
"Under these circumstances it is unreasonable for Queensland to commence paying 'full scheme' contributions of over $2 billion from July 1."
The Morrison Government forecast a $1.6 billion budget surplus in 2019-20 before the Federal election based on lower than planned spending on the NDIS.
Ms Trad is pushing for the transitional agreement to be rolled over for six months to allow a new agreement to be drawn up. She is also asking for access to more than $838.6 million in backpay from the Disability Care Australia Fund.
Her Health Minister Steven Miles said it was also critical the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) find appropriate accommodation for the Queenslanders currently stuck in a hospital bed when they should be receiving care in the community under the NDIS.
"The NDIS transition should not leave vulnerable Queenslanders any less well supported and cared for," Mr Miles said.
In a statement, the federally funded NDIA said it was committed to ensuring all eligible participants gain timely access to the NDIS and was trialling a program to address such issues.
"This includes ensuring people awaiting hospital discharge are given priority attention," the statement said.
Comment was also sought from Federal's new NDIS minister, Stuart Robert, whose office referred The Courier-Mail to the NDIA's response.