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ACC Report Vindicates Government Decision

The ACC annual report, tabled today in Parliament, vindicates the decision to restore workplace accident insurance to the state - with better injury prevention and rehabilitation programmes backed by a strong financial performance says Accident Insurance Minister Dr Michael Cullen.

"The best news is that the number of accidents continues to fall – by 6 percent during the year. ACC is spending a great deal of effort and extra resources on effective injury prevention programmes to keep New Zealanders safer on the roads, on the sports field and at work", says Dr Cullen.

"Higher quality rehabilitation services are being bedded in at ACC with people getting earlier care, suffering less pain and getting back to work faster. This is driving down the overall costs of the scheme."

Dr Cullen said ACC's ability to lower costs is impressive. "Among the Corporation's achievement has been a further reduction in the number of long-term claimants. There are now just over 19,000 people who have been on ACC for over one year – that compares to 20,000 in 1991 and 29,000 in 1997. Fewer long-term claims reduced scheme liability to $6.4 billion. That is $3 billion less that was forecast in 1997.

"As a result the residual claims levy has dropped from 67 cents per $100 in 1998/99 to 40 cents this year – with headroom for further reductions."

And Dr Cullen says ACC has taken note of criticisms of its heavy bureaucracy in the past. ACC is streamlining its processes so that the vast majority of claims which need little more than a visit to a GP or physiotherapist, can be dealt with over the telephone with complex cases going to branches for intensive rehabilitation by case managers.

"ACC is in good heart and I am confident that we will be able to afford further improvements to the scheme next year without increasing premiums. I stand by the decision to restore the State to the important role of providing workplace injury prevention, rehabilitation and compensation," said Dr Cullen

Ends

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