ACC review necessary but must not lose sight of ideals

Published: Wed 15 Dec 2010 05:17 PM
Hon Jim Anderton
Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader
ACC review necessary but must not lose sight of ideals
15 December 2010 Media Statement
In parliament today Progressive Wigram MP Jim Anderton challenged ACC Minister Nick Smith about how ACC is interpreting legislation on personal injury claims which are being routinely declined on the basis of pre-existing or degenerative conditions.
ACC announced this week it is to hold an internal review of its practices, which have recently been under scrutiny in a high profile media campaign.
Thousands of ACC claimants, who have been denied compensation on the basis of pre-existing or degenerative conditions, have voiced their concerns to MPs and to the New Zealand Herald on how ACC appointed doctors are citing pre-existing or degenerative conditions rather than personal injury to avoid paying out claims.
Jim Anderton says “The Herald’s campaign has done a great job in highlighting the fundamental flaws in the system. On the one hand you have claimants over 20 years old being turned down because their injuries are deemed ‘degenerative’ and on the other, claims from people under 20 years old being classified as ‘pre-existing’, which is just plain ridiculous.
“There is a distinct lack of objective and independent advice coming from ACC’s medical panel”, says Anderton. “ACC has been declining cover in what appears to be unprecedented numbers based on the judgement of a group of preferred doctors or surgeons, most of whom work from x-rays and scan results without ever coming into contact with the patient.
“Since the National government stepped in with its new agenda, it is clear the ACC has lost its focus and lacks credibility. The high numbers of claimants seeking second opinions and turning to the district court to get reviews overturned illustrates that ACC’s clinical judgement needs to be overhauled. It has also brought lawyers and legal expenses into the frame – a situation we abandoned when the right to sue was abolished.
“New Zealanders want the ACC to be effective; an organisation that covers them for work and non-work related injuries, that operates a no fault system and removes lawyers and legal fees from the claims process.
“Whilst still regarded as a world-class service, ACC has currently lost its way. The review must carefully look at its internal processes and cut out the rot that is setting in. The organisation must stick to its original principals and ideals and ensure that people are covered for accident and injury, irrespective of age, otherwise ACC will simply become a second rate insurance scheme. We will be watching the outcome of this review with great interest”, says Jim Anderton.

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