Brian Fallow writes on ACC. He bashes Nick Smith up a bit for calling the scheme insolvent (and I agree that was not the most useful contribution to the debate). But Fallow also concedes there are problems:
The briefing to the incoming minister highlights three troubling trends.
One is in the number of claims. In the 2007-08 year claims rose 4 per cent when the population grew only 1 per cent.
In the case of workplace accidents alone the number of claims per million hours worked has increased by 15.6 per cent over the past four years, and is now at the same rate as Australia (where the trend has been declining).
Secondly the proportion of claimants who return to work has been trending down, from 93 per cent in 2001 to 87 per cent six years later.
And the combined effect of more claims and high rates of inflation in the health industry have pushed ACC’s overall cost of medical treatment up an arresting 55 per cent in the three years to June 2008.
So more people are claiming, workplace accident rate is increasing, rehabilitation rates are declining and costs are massively blowing out.
And since then:
The Department of Labour’s most recent quarterly report card on ACC says: “The three-month rehabilitation rate, return-to-work rate and long-term claims pool are continuing to show negative results, indicating clients are staying on the scheme longer, thus increasing outstanding liabilities, particularly weekly compensation.”
And who is driving the cost increases:
Another $200 million was the result of court rulings (about asbestos) and legislative changes to increase the scheme’s coverage, on top of $600 million in Cabinet-approved policy decisions.
The Labour Government did.
“The previous Government wanted to increase ACC benefits take-up and coverage. Now the new Government wants greater cost control.”
The shift in focus is fair enough.
But ACC is a civilised and cost-effective approach to dealing with the injured. Why undermine confidence in the scheme, unless you plan to undermine the scheme itself?
I don’t think the scheme is being undermined. It is the previous management of the scheme that is being highlighted as lacking.