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Moratorium on More ACC Changes Called for

Moratorium on More ACC Changes Called for as 1 July Law Change Kicks in

The Minister for ACC has been approached to order a moratorium on planned cuts for the hearing impaired, as a new law kicking in tomorrow [1 July 2010] will see thousands refused ACC cover.

From Thursday 1 July anyone with less than 6 percent noise induced hearing loss will be declined ACC cover. Further planned changes mean the Government will no longer cover the full cost of the hearing aid needed by someone who has lost their hearing because of exposure to noise.

“The country’s audiologists have met and voted unanimously for planned cuts to hearing aid cover to be put on hold while the Government, ACC and the industry work on an alternative way forward,” says Lesley Hindmarsh, President of the New Zealand Audiological Society.

“The 1 July changes impose a rigid, numeric threshold of less than six percent hearing loss before being eligible for ACC. We are saying to the Government enough is enough.

“We are asking ACC Minister Nick Smith to show leadership and really make a difference to the ACC expenditure by working with the hearing care profession, employers and employees to make workplaces safer.

“Audiologists constantly get people through their doors who are suffering from noise induced hearing loss that is both historic – and new,” says Mrs Hindmarsh. “Instead of trying to save money by abandoning people who have a hearing loss through no fault of their own, there is real potential to limit future claims by enforcing workplace safety standards”

“There is something seriously wrong with the way ACC and the Government is singling out people with hearing impairment, as if they don’t matter.

“People with less than six percent hearing loss, who from tomorrow won’t get any ACC cover for their noise induced hearing loss, commonly cannot hear in work meetings, their work performance is affected because they fail to hear crucial information, they can experience social isolation, depression and strained relationships.

“Instead of abandoning people with hearing loss, there is an opportunity for the Government to find a constructive solution to any concerns it may have. Now is the time to work on those solutions.”

Members of the New Zealand Audiological Society are meeting for their annual conference in Blenheim until Saturday 3 July.

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

ENDS

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