Providers today received a letter from the NDIA outlining terms and conditions for the advance payment announced over the weekend. The letter identifies the proposed advance payment amount for the provider.If providers do not 'opt out' of receiving the payment by Friday of this week, the payments will begin flowing from 30 March and be finalised by 3 April.As a provider processes future claims, they will be offset against this payment until the balance of the advance payment has been reduced to nil. If the advance payment cannot be offset against future claims, the provider will have to repay the full amount of the advance offer within 30 days of receiving a demand from the Agency. Given the scale of this process, the Agency has indicated it will not negotiate the terms and conditions with individual providers.NDS will, however, make representations on behalf of organisations providing a substantial amount of support to participants who are plan or self-managed. This is because these participants are excluded from the calculation of the offer amount (as the Agency does not know what payments are being made by Plan Managers or participants to providers).Cancellation policyThe new cancellation policy (See ‘What is the change to cancellations?’ under the Advice for Providers heading), extends the notice period for a cancellation from two to ten days and allows cancellations to be charged at 100 per cent of the support price. The policy comes into effect from 1 April. NDS has requested further detail on how this will operate in practice, including whether it can be ‘back dated’ for recent cancellations.10 per cent price loadingA new Price Guide incorporating the new 10 per cent COVID-19 loading is available now. Pre-requisites for charging these higher prices will be the same as applies for any other price increase.Plan extensionsParticipant plans due to expire will be extended by to 24 months (a substantial increase from the current 28 days).Support coordinationThree new line items for Support Coordination have been added to the Support Catalogue released today that will enable participants to use their Core Budget to purchase Support Coordination.Clarification sought on definition of 'essential'NDS is hearing from many members about concerns as to whether all disability supports are, or should be, considered essential. These concerns are particularly associated with industrial matters such as when workers can be stood down and under what conditions they are entitled to receive normal pay, and when they can be asked to take leave. NDS is also receiving reports from members indicating that participants are increasingly cancelling supports such as social participation, impacting on decisions as to whether these supports should or can continue during the COVID-19 emergency period. NDS raised the issue of what is an 'essential service', how it is to be defined and the implications for providers of being an ‘essential service’ in discussions with the Department of Social Services today. We understand the question of what is and is not an ‘essential service’ will be discussed by Australian Governments shortly. NDS is also seeking legal advice on the issue.