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Failed Medicare Levy increase is the latest knock to the National Disability Insurance Scheme


Advocacy groups say stop using us as a "political football".

The Turnbull government claimed a win by shelving their proposed Medicare Levy increase last week, but disability advocacy groups say it is anything but.

The 0.5% increase would have funded the National Disability Insurance Scheme for 10 years starting in 2019. Now the NDIS will be funded by an unexpected increase in tax revenue, which is temporary by nature. This leaves the disabled community wondering if they will be able to get the care they need going forward.

“The Medicare Levy increase was intended to guarantee funding for the NDIS in the long-term. Now, we are back to the uncertainty around the NDIS, and fighting for funding at every budget,” Disabled People's Organisations Australia co-CEO Therese Sands said in a statement.

The NDIS was created under the Gillard government in 2013 and was the impetus behind the last increase to the Medicare Levy when it rose from 1.5% to 2% the following year. Since those days, funding for the NDIS has been the source of political friction, and disability groups have long felt that it is being used as a "political football".

Almost forgotten in all of this are the 460,000 disabled Australians who are slated to receive individualised support by the time the scheme is fully implemented.

“The NDIS is about providing essential daily supports for people with disability, so we can fully participate in society. We are not second-class citizens that should be reliant on so-called big hearts. We are now left to go cap in hand, like charity cases, at each and every budget. This is unacceptable," Sands said.

Apart from being a political issue, using revenue to fund NDIS makes bad economic sense according to Queensland University of Technology Business School professor Dr David Willis.

“We have once again proposed a permanent expenditure to be paid for out of a hoped rise in revenue. As revenue falls in a slowing economy or costs rise as rates rise, the ability to fully fund the NDIS will leave only two choices, either to cut the amount offered and who can claim, or to increase debt and deficit to fund it going forward,” Dr Willis said in a statement.

The Turnbull government originally proposed the increase to the Medicare Levy when announcing the 2017 budget. Labour countered with their own increase that would apply only to those making more than $87,000 per year. None of it mattered as the whole thing was ultimately scrapped.

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