ACC's corrupt specialists | The Jackal

8 Sep 2012

ACC's corrupt specialists

Today, Stuff reported:

ACC is spending millions of dollars flying doctors around New Zealand to assess long-term clients who have already been assessed by other doctors.

The policy has been slammed by John Miller - one of the country's top lawyers specialising in ACC legislation - who said the so-called “independence” of some assessors was a sham.

ACC lawyers, advocates and claimant groups know those doctors as “hatchet men and women”, Mr Miller said.

“They are not independent, as a substantial part of their income comes from ACC,” he said.

ACC figures reveal the corporation pays millions of dollars a year to a group of “independent assessors”, often flying them to towns or cities where other doctors with suitable qualifications already practise.

In some cases the ACC assessors are flown from the South Island to North Island cities.

At least $3 million was spent last year on airfares and assessment fees for a group of less than 12 doctors.

Outrageous! It's little wonder then that the amount of reviews people have been making concerning ACC declining their claims has increased dramatically from 4937 in 2005/06 to 8069 in 2011/12.

With a group of so-called specialists being employed to ensure long-term claimants are declined the amount of long-term active claims has fallen by 4796 since 2001/02. That's a large group of people who are not getting the assistance they need specifically because ACC's specialists have a vested interest to decline genuine claims. They are in fact paid bonuses to decline legitimate claims, which gives them a financial incentive to do the wrong thing.

This has caused a huge increase in the amount of appeals being filed against ACC in the district Court from 594 in 2008 to 799 in 2011. However many claimants are simply too sick to fight ACC's lawyers for their entitlements, so we should consider the problem created by such repressive policy is larger than these figures indicate.

Clearly the current regime of ACC specialists declining people’s claims without justification and often contradicting existing medical assessments isn't in the best interest of people's rehabilitation. It's also not in the best interest of New Zealand. Such underhanded tactics go against the principle of what the scheme was set up to achieve.

Of course National is happy to allow this dysfunction to continue because their ultimate goal is to privatize ACC. Anything that discredits what was a world leading no fault scheme means that the public will more likely accept the right wings neoliberal agenda to sell ACC. The profit motive will then cause even more issues and ensure Kiwis who are sick or injured do not receive assistance.

As Minister of ACC, Judith Collins should be ashamed of the current situation. Disgraceful!