Some injured workers will have their medical benefits restored as the NSW state government winds back some cuts to its WorkCover NSW scheme!Injured workers will also continue to be eligible for weekly benefits until a disputed work capacity assessment has been resolved, and thresholds will be decreased from 30% WPI to 21% to be eligible for medical benefits.
Workcover NSW reforms & cuts being wound back
Reforms to workers’ compensation are being wound backDate June 24, 2014—SMH By Anna Patty
Injured workers including amputees and people needing hearing aids will have their medical benefits restored as the state government winds back some cuts to its WorkCover scheme.
Two years ago, the then O’Farrell government slashed benefits to injured workers to rein in a projected $4 billion deficit in the WorkCover scheme. The scheme has since recorded a $1 billion surplus.
A parliamentary inquiry recently heard that seriously injured workers were no longer considered eligible to qualify for continuing medical benefits under the new scheme.
“Now we have pulled the scheme out of Labor’s deficit and returned it to surplus, we are in a position to better support the state’s workers,” Mr Perrottet said. (oh really?)
Mr Perrottet said injured workers would also continue to be eligible for weekly benefits until a disputed work capacity assessment had been resolved. This follows criticism raised in a recent parliamentary inquiry that found people were getting no benefits for the months it took for their disputed claim to be settled.
Entitlements to a second operation would also be relaxed in cases where the initial surgery required a follow-up operation after 12 months. The present system caps benefits to 12 months.
The threshold for worker injuries will be lowered from 30 per cent of their body to 21 per cent to be eligible for medical benefits, until they reach retirement age.
Kris Carroll, 40, who is married with four children, had his lower leg amputated after his foot was crushed in a workplace injury in 2005. He was shocked last year when he discovered his benefits, including the cost of replacing a $25,000 prosthetic limb every year, were cut.
“I got a letter from my insurer in October last year which said my lifetime cover had been cut,” he said.
”They said they did not consider I was seriously injured because I had 28 per cent whole body impaired and not 31 per cent.
”It brought back all the feelings of shock and dread that I had at the accident.”
Mr Carroll’s injury has since been revised to 31 per cent.
Mr Perrottet said the 2012 changes had resulted in premium reductions of 17.5 per cent in the past week, protecting jobs and returning $400 million to the economy.
A report by WorkCover actuary PricewaterhouseCoopers tabled to the NSW Parliament this year has challenged the basis of the cuts. It found that without the changes introduced in 2012, the deficit would have fallen to $2 billion by now and to $500 million by June 2018. In his report, PwC partner Michael Playford said the scheme could have approached “full funding by 2021” without the 2012 cuts to benefits.
The 2011 prediction of a $4 billion deficit was largely based on a low point in returns from yields because of the global financial crisis.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge has said thousands of injured workers had lost the right to medical benefits despite suffering significant work injuries in the past two years.
With thanks to Phil for sharing the story first!