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ACC: Govt Turns Back on Hearing Impaired, Elderly

Media Release

New Zealand Audiological Society

Monday 19 October 2009

Government Turns Its Back on Hearing Impaired And Eldery with ACC Changes

The New Zealand Audiological Society is accusing the Government of turning its back on thousands of people whose hearing has been damaged at work with its planned ACC changes.

“Bringing in an arbitrary threshold of hearing loss before people can receive help for hearing aids is unfair and unjustified,” says Lesley Hindmarsh, President of the New Zealand Audiological Society.

The Government’s ACC changes include a threshold of a six percent hearing loss before a person may be entitled for assistance for hearing devices.

“We estimate many thousands of people with occupational hearing loss – particularly Māori, the elderly and people needing replacement hearing aids, who were entitled to ACC help for their hearing aids previously may now be left with nothing,” says Mrs Hindmarsh.

“People with hearing loss have significant needs. The Government is sending these people a message that their needs aren’t worth anything, and a poor quality of life for them and their families is acceptable.

“It is worth noting that Māori are significantly underrepresented in successful ACC hearing loss claims despite being over represented in occupations traditionally associated with noise exposure. Introducing a hearing loss threshold will only make this worse. This policy also discriminates against older first-time claimants due to outdated adjustments to percentage hearing loss attributed to aging.” says Mrs Hindmarsh.

The NZAS had been working with ACC on this issue, and is disappointed at the proposed law changes. ACC has not been able to tell the NZAS what the expected savings from this change would be.

“We are urging the ACC Minister, the Government and other political parties to remove this section of the proposals. While some changes may be necessary, moving from a needs based approach to a threshold based one for people with hearing impairment is unacceptable.

The New Zealand Audiological Society is the professional organisation representing qualified Audiologists and audiology in New Zealand.

ENDS

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