Thursday, 22 September 2016

What Member's Bills are for

I'm really excited about this one.

Last year, Chris Bishop's Member's Bill on compensation for live organ donors was drawn from the ballot. New Zealand provided some small amount of compensation to donors for their lost income, but under ACC rules that come with strict caps on how much can be paid - for reasons that make sense for ACC but not for live organ transplant.

We submitted on the bill, based on our report showing that the government saves about $120,000 in costs for every kidney transplant. Our report, and our submission, are here. We recommended:
  • strengthening the compensation regime from 80% of lost earnings to 100%, up to a cap in case, say, a bank CEO becomes a live donor;
  • playing fairly to those not in employment by compensating them as though they were employed full time on the minimum wage;
  • providing live donors with priority access to transplants should they ever need one later;
  • compensation should be handled by MoH rather than through Work & Income, who were not doing a great job with the cases they were seeing.
  • strengthens compensation to 100% of lost earnings;
  • makes some provision for those donors not in employment, so that existing work rules on benefit receipt don't make a mess of things, and so those on benefits who are in some part-time employment are not disadvantaged, but doesn't quite go as far as we'd have liked;
  • does not implement a priority system, but that would have been too substantial a change to add into the Bill in the committee process anyway (room for future improvement);
  • runs compensation through MoH.
I'm really happy about this outcome. The bill had great cross-party support all the way through, and I expect it will be passed soon. It will do a lot of good, and save the government money in the process. There aren't many Pareto moves out there, but this is one. 

This is exactly the kind of thing that the Member's Bill process is for. Chris has done a fantastic job here. 

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