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Media Release 7 August 2009

Concern about ACC Amendment Bill

The ACC Futures Coalition is concerned that moves by ACC Minister Nick Smith are likely to reduce front line services for people claiming accident compensation.

Dr Smith is preparing an ACC Amendment Bill and has also announced an ACC stocktake committee.

“A tightening up of eligibility to entitlements for people suffering injury is on the cards - whether it is access to MRI’s, physiotherapy, hearing aids, or access to surgery,” says ACC Futures Coalition spokesperson Hazel Armstrong.

“Accident compensation claimants are likely to feel hurried through their rehabilitation to meet timetables for recovery. It is likely that claimants will have less choice about who will provide services to them, with ACC reigning in costs by tightening up on the selection of providers.”

“Competition in the work account is on the back burner for now, as the work account is solvent. However, Nick Smith is still keen to look at experience rating as an option.”

“Experience rating - reducing accident compensation levies for employers who claim to have a good safety records - is a flawed concept that has been tried in the past and failed.”

“Workers can feel pressured to not report an accident if it has a direct impact on the employer’s ACC levy.”

“More workers die and are injured from occupational diseases such as respiratory conditions, cancer, asbestosis and hearing loss, than from traumatic accidents at work. Experience rating does nothing to sheet home responsibility to employers who have unsafe workplaces causing occupational disease.”

“When a worker is hurt in the workplace there is usually an incident that can be reported. But if they contract an occupational disease at work this may not show up until long after they’ve left the unsafe workplace.”

“This means the employer who operated the unsafe workplace that caused the illness is not penalised by having their ACC levy increased.”

“The Coalition hopes to have input into the stocktake. We are concerned that the membership of the steering committee has a financial and insurance industry bias and may not give due recognition to the accident compensation needs of ordinary New Zealanders,” says Hazel Armstrong.

The ACC Futures Coalition consists of people who people who need support from ACC, health treatment providers and unions who have come together around the following aim:

To build cross-party support for retaining the status of ACC as a publicly-owned single provider committed to the ‘Woodhouse Principles’, with a view to maintaining and improving the provision of injury prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and ‘no fault’ compensation social insurance system for all New Zealanders.

12:00AM Friday, 07 August, 2009

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