20 Oct 2009

Government to continue to negotiate over ACC reform

6:45 pm on 20 October 2009

The National Government could still do a deal with the ACT Party over accident compensation reform, despite an offer of support from the Maori Party to introduce the legislation.

The Government has been trying to secure support for its reform of the accident compensation scheme.

The Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill contains cuts to a range of entitlements and pushes out the deadline for fully funding ACC.

Prime Minister John Key has indicated the Government wants to be sure of support for the full passage of the bill and will keep negotiating with other parties.

ACT wants the work account to be opened up to private insurers, and that has been the main focus of its discussions with National. The party says it will continue to push for the changes it believes are necessary.

The Maori Party says it will support the Government's bill going to a select committee, giving National the numbers it needs to introduce the legislation.

The Maori Party says it has several concerns about the legislation as it stands, but wants to hear feedback from the public.

The Labour Party has also offered its support on the issue on Tuesday.

Fewer accidents in competitive market - Vero

An insurance company that once operated in competition with the Accident Compensation Corporation says there were fewer accidents and people got back to work more quickly during that period.

The ACC employers account was open to competition briefly in 1999 when six private insurers had 95% of the business.

One of those, Vero, says premiums halved during that time. Chief executive Roger Bell told Nine to Noon that accident outcomes also improved and people returned to work sooner.

Employers' group wary

An employers' group says it is wary about a reintroduction of competition for ACC after what it calls "a bun fight between insurers and employers " the last time it happened.

The Northern Employers and Manufacturers Association says employers want an ACC market with stable premiums.

It believes the providers of treatment and rehabilitation for workplace accident victims should compete to provide cost-effective services.

The association says the last time the market was opened up to competition there was a fight between insurers trying to capture business and employers seeking insurance within prescribed timeframes.

It says although insurance premiums dropped, most commentators agreed that ensuing years would have seen large increases to offset the initial prices.