Disability costly to taxpayers

TAXPAYERS will fork out $310 per year for two new disability support systems  proposed at Parliament House, Canberra, today.

The Productivity Commission’s draft report into Disability Care and Support outlines two new schemes proposed for Australia, and how the schemes would be funded if approved by the government, at the cost of an extra $6.3 billion a year on top of what is currently being funded.

The report also identifies the current system as being underfunded, unfair, fragmented and inefficient.

The two new schemes – the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) – would start rolling out in 2013-14 and funding would come from the Federal Government.

Currently, funding for the industry comes from the state and territory governments for some schemes and the Federal Government for others.

The NDIS would be like Medicare in that all Australians would know that they or their families would get long-term care and support if they acquired a significant disability. About 360,000 people would receive scheme funding.

The NIIS would cover people’s lifetime care and support needs if they acquired a catastrophic injury from any accident.

Inquiry Presiding Commissioner Patricia Scott said the private insurance market does not work well for this type of support.

“Every day, nearly 100 people acquire a significant disability,” she said.

“This will have life long impacts on them and their family. Under the proposed new schemes, people would not wait years for suitable wheelchairs or only get two showers a week. Our preliminary estimate is that the additional cost of the big scheme (NDIS) would be around $6 billion per annum.”

In 2009-10, the Federal Government provided $1.7 billion in funding to the disability sector, while state and territory governments provided funding of around $4.5 billion.

Associate Commissioner John Walsh said not providing adequate support now requires increased dollars later.

“We have a ‘death spiral’ in the current system, with ageing carers unable to cope, giving up their adult children to expensive taxpayer-funded care, leading to reduced respite support, and putting more strain on remaining carers,” he said.

The inquiry received more than 600 submissions from individuals and interested groups.

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