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Media Release 7 October 2009

Private companies have poor record says ACC Futures Coalition

The ACC Futures Coalition is concerned that ACC plans to call in private third party administrators to handle up to 1500 long-term accident compensation claimants.

“This group of people receiving accident compensation face major challenges in returning to work,” said ACC Futures Coalition spokesperson Hazel Armstrong.

“The private operators ACC are planning to bring in are administrators, not rehabilitation and treatment providers, and have poor track record in getting long term claimants back to work.”

“When the private sector was last involved in this area in the late 1990s they moved almost a quarter of the long term claimants onto welfare benefits. We don’t see that as progress.”

“Recent research has also indicated that outcomes from ACC managed clients are generally better than those managed by private third party administrators engaged under the accredited employers programme.”

“This move could be the thin edge of the wedge for the privatisation of ACC.”

“The Corporation has the capacity and capability to provide a quality service in this area and it should not allow itself to be stampeded by the Government into an ideologically driven decision.”

The ACC Futures Coalition is also deeply concerned by recent reports that the Government is planning to introduce legislation under urgency to introduce cutbacks to accident compensation. The targeting of work-related gradual process disease is of particular concern.

“Occupational illness is a work injury,” said Ms Armstrong. “More people die from occupational illness than from traumatic injury in the workplace in New Zealand and that is why the 2007 changes were introduced.”

“It would be profoundly undemocratic and against the intentions of current accident compensation law if cutbacks are made under urgency.”

“The ACC Futures Coalition does not accept that ACC has a massive unfunded liability.”

“A political decision was made by the previous government to introduce a fully funded scheme by 2014 and we support moves to push this out to 2019 or even beyond.”

“The Government could even explore shifting to a pay as you go funding arrangement,” said Ms 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 Wednesday, 07 October, 2009

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