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  • Sonia Miller

Mental Health, Disability and NDIS funding compromise

Having a diagnosis of mental illness under NIDS funding is causing consumers a lot of confusion between what their NDIS package will fund and Medicare funding. Many consumers are being asked to see a NDIS Therapeutic Supports provider under limited funding for Psychological/Psychosocial support and also go and get a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) from their GP to see a Better Access provider. Not all providers under NDIS Therapeutic Supports are also Better Access providers therefore NDIS is asking the consumers to change providers or have two providers for psychological work within the package year. This practice is to shift the cost from NDIS onto Medicare but it also forces the consumer to pay out of pocket fees because the Better Access services under Medicare are a rebate only and doesn't cover the full fee for services. This is a ridiculous extra work for NIDS consumers who have a mental illness, who are the most disadvantaged group of people in our community and now have this extra complication and cost. Navigating health services is difficult enough for anyone let alone someone who has a disability and mental health illness.

More than one-third of people with serious mental illnesses who have applied for the $22 billion NDIS have been rejected, almost three times the ineligibility rate across all other disability groups. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/health/one-third-of-seriously-mentally-ill-applicants-have-been-rejected-for-ndis-data-reveals/news-story/59d379fe88f4060c18a77ba3cf967f7b Now we find that once these people enter the NDIS system they have greater complexity than other people with disabilities to access adequate funding to support their needs.

As a member of the Mental Health Reference Group of the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/MBSR-committees-mental-health-services

there was significant concern regard the use of these Medicare items under a MHTP. NDIS packages including psychotherapeutic supports are inadequate with trying to the shift of cost onto Medicare and the consumer. The added complexity to consumers managing already difficult living circumstances are having to negotiate two different funding sources to meet their ongoing management on monitoring needs. NDIS Therapeutic Support providers for psychotherapy are also being undermined by this expectation. I have had 80% of my NDIS clients told by NDIS planners and Support Coordinators that they need to get a MHTP because NDIS package is not enough a MHTP should be used first before NDIS funding. I would like to know your stories. Have you had a similar experience?

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