On The Receiving End Of Tough Love

Published: Tue 19 Jan 2010 12:20 PM
Press Release
Acclaim Otago (Inc)
On The Receiving End Of Tough Love
ACC claimants around the Country are outraged at the recently released policy document showing ACC’s plans for long-term claimants rasing questions of how ACC is getting away with this.
The answers seem to be found in the document itself and also in understanding how ACC uses medical case review assessments from particular doctors to remove entitlements.
Denise Powell, President of Acclaim Otago says “In the last year, many of our members have come to us after ACC has stopped their weekly compensation for “non-compliance.” One in particular has been cut-off by ACC three times and each time, she has been reinstated after taking legal action against ACC and her case has been heard.”
The document outlined ACC’s plans to increase non-compliance amongst long term claimants as a means of removing entitlements. “The cynical among us believe this is being used as a way to force clients to attend assessments with ‘preferred assessors’ some of whom earn many hundreds of thousands of dollars per year”
Figures released under the Official Information Act show that one doctor in Christchurch billed ACC nearly $1 million dollars in 2005 and consistently more than $700,000 a year from 2004 to 2007.
Recent figures show that one Dunedin doctor has received several hundred thousand dollars per year from ACC assessments in addition to his full-time Otago District Health Board employment. Bruce Van Essen, Vice President of Acclaim Otago thinks that this is outrageous.
“One doctor in Dunedin said he had read 40,000 articles relating to my medical condition and that there is no evidence that it exists and he then charged ACC $6,741 for his report. How many hours per week can a person work?” Van Essen asked “And how long would it take him to read 40,000 articles?”
Mrs Powell continues “Until recently, ACC’s assessors were sacrosanct and it was very difficult to get the opinions of the assessors overturned through the legal process. Once the assessment was done and a decision issued, it was too late. This situation is reminiscent of the Trapski Report more than 15 years ago where retired Chief District Court Judge, Peter Trapski criticised ACC for using particular doctors to exit claimants.” Mrs Powell said.

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