The United States is struggling to replace (or avoid replacing) a hodgepodge of state health insurance laws and programs with a somewhat more standardized system based on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
Australia is trying to supplement its own fragmented hodgepodge of support programs for people with disabilities with a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
To me, it’s interesting to see how much health policymakers who hop around with kangaroos and koala bears upside down have in common with our health policymakers.
The NDIS is supposed to help about 410,000 Australians who have a “permanent disability that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management.”
Australian officials have budgeted 1 billion Australian dollars to develop the program and hope to start testing it in a few locations in mid-2013.
Participants are supposed to get quick access to services that could improve their ability to function, such as therapy aimed at helping people with autism or Parkinson’s disease. Participants also will get help with finding and using government services and community-based services, officials say.
Another goal is for Australia to shift an ad hoc disability program funding system to a new, standardized system based on actuarial projections.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has talked about requiring states to contribute about 21,000 Australian dollars in funding per person per year and supplementing that amount with cash from the Australian federal government.
The program goals in the documents on the NDIS website seem amazingly similar to PPACA goals, and quite pleasant in an abstract, governmental way. What kind of Grinch could object to replacing rationed supports for people with disabilities with personalized supports based on each individual’s own goals and aspirations?
When officials describe the weaknesses of current Australian programs for people with disabilities, they sound as if they could be describing the U.S. system. Officials note, for example, that “even within a jurisdiction, people deal with a multitude of programs and agencies, few of which coordinate or share information,” and that “funding for service providers uses outdated models and comes with unnecessary compliance burdens, stifling innovation.”