ACC payments 'manipulated' by govt

ROB STOCK
Last updated 08:08 19/01/2014

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A leaked internal ACC document claims successive governments have manipulated the scheme for their own political ends.

Produced for former chief executive Ralph Stewart , the document contains a chart showing a correlation between the government in office and the inflation-adjusted payments made by ACC.

According to the document, Need for Change, ACC is "demonstrably inconsistent" and claimants are treated differently according to "political cycles".

A former ACC director  aid the swings in policy were achieved through governments appointing the ACC board, which instructs chief executives what is required of them.

The message was then sent to case managers through targets, policies and directives.

"In 2009, there was a wholesale change of the board by [ACC Minister] Nick Smith who wanted to move quickly and have the board more reflective of the government's views," he said.

Depending on what ministers demand, savings or popularity, ACC will adjust its policies to deliver, resulting in rises and falls in the effective insurance cover.

"The perennial issue will always remain: what proportion of the inevitable costs of accidents and injuries will be borne by individuals and their families? That's the boundary that moves," he said.

The public was less likely to make claims if they thought ACC would give them a hard time.

"That's a very apparent trend. The government of the day sends out the signal, and people think it is not worth bothering," the director said.

The political cycle of ACC mapped out in the document corresponds closely with the number of appeals taken to ACC dispute resolution service Fairway, with rises coming under National.

The cycle is also mapped out in the number of elective surgery requests declined, which rose from 9 per cent in 2009 to 21 per cent in 2010, with ACC management concluding that between 2005 and 2009 "insufficient attention" was paid to whether the claims were accident-related.

Both National and Labour claim to be delivering an ACC scheme in accordance with the law.

 

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