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A great idea lost in translation

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The National Disability Insurance Scheme that is coming into being as DisabilityCare Australia is nothing remotely like the original ‘no fault’ scheme embraced by the AMA.

Sadly, the much-anticipated diversion of funding from avaricious legal firms to those in need will not occur.

Even if the disabled party chooses not to sue another party for damages, this may be overridden by National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and damages sought on their behalf.

Worse still, if the action is lost, costs can be subtracted from the benefits that the party is entitled to receive.

A win-win situation for lawyers who will be guaranteed a payday, win or lose in court, but what of the disabled party?

Recently, I had a male patient in his fifties who was badly injured when a 4WD driver on the wrong side of the highway totalled his car.

He finally received compensation after years of wrangling – he ended up with less than $100,000, while the legal costs arising from the case and paid for in the judgement were far greater. Hardly a good outcome, yet all too common.

So is all lost? Will we never see a ‘no fault’ scheme where benefits are determined by expert panels without massive legal expenditure?

The answer to this lies in the hands of the states.

They have the power to determine the disabled parties’ rights to financial redress via the legal system.

One can but trust they will look at the sum total expenditure and determine if insurance dollars are better spent on the disabled, or in the courts.

However, given that all parliaments are blighted by an over-representation of the legal profession I, for one, won’t be holding my breath.

And for those of you who are 65 years of age and in the NDIS, there is a threat that the Chief Executive Officer, in trying to keep costs down, will strongly encourage you to leave the Scheme and enter the aged care system.

Just ensure you don’t have a cerebral vascular accident after 65, because you won’t be able to enter the disability system and will have to rely solely on the overstretched aged care system for support.

I love the concept of the Scheme, as a mark of our society’s humanity, but what is proposed has lost the plot.