Friday, 3 May 2013

The devil is in the detail?

Yesterday the Virtual Quilter, an individual endowed with a great deal of uncommon commonsense, commented that the "devil is in the detail" with reference to the implementation of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme - or Disability Care. Yes, the details.
We really know very little about the scheme or how it will work. We do know that it is supposed to be fully implemented by 2018-19. Given the immense complexities of introducing anything at a national and state level this will not happen but our governments like to tell us that six impossible things can happen before an election. 
This morning the figure of $7bn was given in the Australian. That is at the lowest end of the estimates which have been made. Double that and you would get closer to the actual cost of covering the need. We can be sure that will not happen. The money will, quite simply, never be available.
It is supposed to cover the needs of about 400,000 people under the age of 65. That's an interesting estimate. I suspect that many more will put their hands up and advocates will be busy making their pitches to parliament, the public service and the media.
Now they say it will not be means tested. This is, of course, nonsense. It will have to be means tested simply because there will not be enough money to fund the needs of everyone who is otherwise eligible for assistance. They also say there will be no cap on the amount of "reasonable and necessary" assistance someone can receive. I really do wonder what they mean by "reasonable and necessary". The people who are going to assess what is meant by "reasonable and necessary" are "allied health professionals".
"Means testing" will occur the moment that one of these allied health professionals decides that a family on a $70,000 a year income is more able to pay for a bath seat than a family on a $50,000 a year income. What is "reasonable and necessary" will then be adjusted according to means. 
As for the "no cap" that will also be in the context of "reasonable and necessary" and ideas about what is "reasonable" and what is "necessary" are going to differ even between allied health professionals. The idea that people are going to get "whatever they need whenever they need it" is nonsense. 
There are hints of this already. There is talk of "approved" and "registered" providers. There will be no freedom to employ the person you want to employ to do the job you want them to do even if it means it will allow you to go to work each day or it will get your child to school so that you can go to work. 
As regular readers of this blog will know I have been having my own small battle with the transport system this year. It is a temporary situation. One section of the system told me to apply to another section of the system for a temporary arrangement. The application was made and has been turned down because the first section of the system has something else in place for the period our trains do not run. They are working at cross purposes - and they know it. Their aim is not to spend money at all. I understand that. They have said I should rely on family and friends until the matter is resolved. It will not be resolved of course. We all know that but I have, as a matter of principle, to fight it for others who are less articulate than myself.
One of the architects of the scheme, Bruce Bonyhady, has already said that Disability Care is not meant to replace the care given by family and friends. I doubt anyone ever thought it was meant to do that. What is much more likely is that nothing much is meant to change - and that perhaps families and friends will be required to do even more than before as other schemes are cutback on the grounds that Disability Care is supposed to cover the need.
The other comment on yesterday's blog post came from someone in England. The Conservative government there has been reviewing the cases of those on disability pensions. As always over zealous public servants who have been told to make savings are making mistakes and blunders. I am sure that, just as there are here, there are people there who could work and many who want to work. The Australian Labor government is about to embark on a similar exercise...indeed has quietly started to do so. It won't be popular. 
I have no objections to those who can work being asked or told to work. The problem is that the jobs have to be there and others have to be willing to employ them. People need to have the qualifications to do the work which is available. Many of the jobs which might have been available in the past have gone with the increased use of technology.
It is all enormously complex. Please don't blame people with genuine disabilities. Many of them would love to be tax payers. 


Anonymous said...

cynic! Chris (but I do agree with you)

Anonymous said...

I think the devil is going to be tied up with red tape for a long time ... in the meantime there are more people arriving looking for their 'share'of the Aussie dollar, and they will get it sooner than the disabled.