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Axford Fellows report public policy findings

24 June 2006

MEDIA RELEASE

Axford Fellows report public policy findings

This year’s holders of Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy are to report their findings this week. The three Axford Fellows from the United States, Linda Blumberg, Susan Coppedge and Saskia Kim, have been based for six months at New Zealand government agencies relevant to their respective fields of research – health insurance, privacy and human trafficking.

Dr Linda Blumberg, a Principal Research Associate at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, has been based at Victoria University of Wellington's Health Services Research Centre and the Ministry of Health. Her research has focused on the interactions between public and private health insurance coverage, specifically the impact of private health insurance on the use of publicly-financed services. Her findings contradict the expectation that private health insurance should reduce use and costs of the public health system.

Susan Coppedge, an Assistant US Attorney from Atlanta, Georgia, has been based at the Ministry of Justice and worked with New Zealand Police and Immigration New Zealand, investigating whether recent New Zealand laws passed to curtail and punish human trafficking are being effectively implemented by those in local law enforcement. Her recommendations include greater training for police and immigration officials in the identification and investigation of human trafficking cases.

Saskia Kim, a Principal Consultant to the California State Senate Office of Research, has been based at the Ministry of Justice and Office of the Privacy Commissioner, researching how New Zealand and California treat privacy issues surrounding emerging technologies. Her report includes a case study on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, giving examples of current and future applications of RFID and discussion of the privacy issues raised by the technology.

The Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy were established in to facilitate public policy dialogue between New Zealand and the US, and are collectively funded by a number of government departments and ministries. The Ian Axford Fellows will report their findings at a seminar in Wellington on Wednesday, and their reports will be available for download from the Fulbright New Zealand website – www.fulbright.org.nz

IAN AXFORD (NEW ZEALAND) FELLOWSHIPS IN PUBLIC POLICY SEMINAR

5:30-7:30pm, Ground Floor Theatrette, BP House, Customhouse Quay, Wellington

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The Effect of Private Health Insurance Coverage on Health Services Utilisation in New Zealand

Prepared by Linda J. Blumberg, PhD

Private health insurance can lead to interactive effects with the public health system. It is possible that care delivered under private insurance is not replacing public spending, but increasing total national spending on health care. And because comprehensive policies lower the out-of-pocket price for obtaining public services, this type of coverage may increase the use of those services, thereby increasing public spending. This study assesses the impact of private health insurance coverage on the use of health services in New Zealand, using 2002/2003 New Zealand Health Survey data.

This analysis indicates significant interactive effects between private insurance and the use of health services. These effects are particularly pronounced with regard to care received outside of the hospital setting. Private insurance tends to increase the use of GP services, specialist services, and pharmaceuticals among those most likely to have comprehensive health insurance – highincome individuals. There is no overall significant effect of private insurance on public hospital inpatient, daypatient, or emergency room care. If private in-patient care acts as a substitute for public in-patient care, one would expect significant overall declines in public in-patient use associated with having private coverage. These findings contradict arguments supporting a tax rebate for the purchase of private insurance.

About the Author:

Linda Blumberg is a Principal Research Associate at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, where she has worked since 1992. From 1993 to 1994, she served as health policy advisor to the Clinton Administration during its initial health care reform effort. In her research, Blumberg has focused on issues of health care policy and economics. Her recent work includes a variety of projects related to private health insurance and health care financing. During Blumberg's Ian Axford Fellowship in New Zealand, she has been based at Victoria University of Wellington's Health Services Research Centre and the Ministry of Health. Her research has focused on the interactions between public and private health insurance coverage, specifically the impact of private health insurance on the use of publicly financed services.


People Trafficking: An International Crisis Fought at the Local Level

Prepared by Susan Coppedge

People trafficking is a global epidemic with an estimated 800,000 people trafficked each year, the majority being trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. This report looks at the range of laws in effect in New Zealand to address both people trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Cases are already being successfully brought under the Prostitution Reform Act and the smuggling provision of the Crimes Act. To date, there have been no cases brought under the trafficking provisions of the Crimes Act (section 98D). People trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation cases bring unique issues with respect to victims, both in terms of identifying them and working with them to achieve a successful prosecution. The analysis includes identification of future challenges New Zealand faces in combating under-age commercial sexual exploitation. The report also contains a survey of some non-governmental organisations and the work they do to prevent at-risk youth from engaging in commercial sexual exploitation. By presenting three case studies, the report examines potential transnational people trafficking in New Zealand. These case studies arose prior to the enactment of the trafficking laws in 2002, but provide a basis for analysing people trafficking in New Zealand and an indicator of what cases may arise in the future. These case studies also provide scenarios for training law enforcement in recognising and investigating people trafficking. Lastly, recommendations are made as to what steps New Zealand can take to reduce commercial sexual exploitation of persons under 18 years of age and prosecute future people trafficking cases.

About the Author:

Susan Coppedge, an Assistant US Attorney from Atlanta, Georgia, is on the front-line in putting criminal laws to use and developing a practical awareness of problems that law enforcement agencies face in applying the law. She is active in developing cases in the human trafficking arena and involved in the Georgia Rescue and Restore Coalition, whose goal is to identify victims of human trafficking and get these victims the support and services they need to safely escape the traffickers. During Coppedge’s Ian Axford Fellowship in New Zealand, she has been based at the Ministry of Justice and worked with the New Zealand Police and Immigration New Zealand, investigating recent New Zealand cases and laws passed to curtail and punish human trafficking, smuggling and commercial sexual exploitation in order to determine whether they are being effectively implemented by those in local law enforcement.


Safeguarding Consumer Privacy in a Technological Era: A Comparison of Privacy Protections in New Zealand and California

Prepared by Saskia Kim

New Zealand’s Privacy Act 1993 has been called the most comprehensive national privacy law outside of Europe, applying to the collection of personal information by both the public and private sectors. It is not the only model for privacy protection, however. Sectoral legislation, which specifically addresses a particular sector or problem, and self-regulation in which industry groups establish best-practice guidelines and self-police compliance are the two other principal approaches. New Zealand employs all three approaches while California relies on sectoral legislation and self-regulation. New uses of technologies can challenge the approaches. Whether technologies come within the scope of comprehensive laws, which tend to be broad and general, is often a question, and while sectoral laws can specifically target a problematic practice, if the practice or technology changes the statute may no longer apply. The report utilises seven key criteria to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each approach using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as a case study. It contains examples of current and future applications of RFID and discussion of the privacy issues raised by the technology. Threshold definitional questions concerning RFID are also addressed in relation to New Zealand’s Privacy Act. The analysis considers the privacy issues raised by RFID with respect to each criterion and discusses how each approach, in addressing those issues, furthers the goals of the criteria. The report draws conclusions and offers policy recommendations concerning whether existing statutory schemes are sufficient to protect privacy.

About the Author

Saskia Kim, a Principal Consultant to the California State Senate Office of Research and previously counsel to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, works with state legislators to develop public policy initiatives and draft policy options related to privacy. She has gained extensive experience in privacy law and has significant responsibility for drafting statutory language. During Kim’s Ian Axford Fellowship in New Zealand, she has been based at the Ministry of Justice and Office of the Privacy Commissioner, researching how New Zealand and California treat privacy issues, with a focus on emerging technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID).


ENDS

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