Maurice Blackburn – lending our members a hand

As Australia's leading social justice law firm, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (MBL) engage in important public policy decisions, on behalf of those they represent. MBL actively seek to influence decision making at all levels of government, in matters where they have clients or partners who may be adversely impacted by poor public policy decisions. MBL are generous in sharing their expertise and experience with decision makers from the various levels of government, regardless of their political affiliations. Aside from government inquiries, MBL also contribute to requests for information from the Productivity Commission, Royal Commissions, and regulatory bodies such as the ACCC and ASIC.

MBL have been staunch advocates for the invaluable, independent work of allied health professionals in a number of contexts. Some recent examples of this work appear below: 

Consumer-centred advocacy in relation to the conduct of the insurance industry:

  • The introduction of standardised terms in insurance contracts
  • The extension of unfair contract terms rules to cover insurance products
  • The limiting of insurer attempts to directly provide health assessment services using their own appointed practitioners
  • The utility of the voluntary industry codes of practice for insurers
  • How stats on insurance claims payouts, delays, refusals etc are reported
  • The importance of independent expert advice in decision making in relation to statutory compensation schemes, and in determining return to work processes. 

Advocacy in relation to the NDIS:

  • The importance of involving the participant’s allied health professionals in discussions about eligibility and supports plans
  • The importance of using expert, independent advice from allied health professionals to inform the planning process
  • The importance of partnering with allied health peak bodies to ensure NDIA planners receive appropriate training in order to understand the needs of clients
  • The importance of ensuring that NDIS pricing policy works to stimulate supply across the country. 

Advocacy in action for our Queensland members

As you may be aware, RACQ recently changed its approach regarding payment of treatment expenses for CTP claimants, including insisting on capped fees for rehabilitation costs for patients who are pursuing CTP claims.

RACQ’s insistence on capped costs was problematic for many reasons, not least that their proposed capped costs in many instances fell well below the prescribed cost for such treatment. This was then further exacerbated by RACQ’s insistence that where a treatment or appointment cost exceeded this cap that any additional costs must be absorbed either by patients or the by the allied health professional concerned.

RACQ had also continued to incorrectly suggest that its recent introduction of capped costs was consistent with the scheduled list of fees as set out by the scheme regulator MAIC.

The effects of this approach from RACQ for allied health professionals and their patients was significant.

Many allied health professionals quite rightly felt deeply uncomfortable about having to pass on any gap fees to their patients, and equally a number, particularly those running small businesses, did not have the ability to continue to absorb these costs. Some were no longer able to treat RACQ claimants as a result of the insurer’s approach.

A number of stakeholders, including the Australian Lawyers Alliance of which MBL is an active participant, recently took this issue up directly with the Motor Accident and Insurance Commissioner (MAIC). 

We are very pleased to report that as a result of this advocacy we have been advised by MAIC that RACQ is no longer continuing with its approach to capped fees or a schedule of fees, and will again be following the same approach taken by all other CTP insurers with respect to funding CTP claimant costs.

This is a significant win for all allied health professionals and for CTP claimants more broadly in restoring the common-sense approach that has been taken to such matters for almost 20 years in Queensland.

You can find more information about this new direction from MAIC regarding costs here