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Minister Turns Deaf Air TO ACC Cuts

MEDIA RELEASE

New Zealand Audiological Society

Thursday 30 December 2010

MINISTER TURNS DEAF EAR TO THOUSANDS OF KIWIS WITH HEARING LOSS WITH 1 JANUARY ACC CUTS

The ACC Minister has turned a deaf ear to thousands of Kiwis opposing ACC cuts for people with work related hearing loss – with sweeping changes in place from 1 January that will put hearing aids out of reach of many people.

“From Saturday people with noise-induced hearing loss will have their ACC cover cut. Funding is being slashed for everything from the amount of funding for hearing aids right through to assistance with repairs and fitting,” says Peter Stubbing, President, New Zealand Audiological Society.

“The Minister received tens of thousands of submissions from people with hearing loss, their families and other organisations opposing further cuts to ACC cover,” says Mr Stubbing. “He has turned a deaf ear on all of them, and in fact came up with even more radical cuts than first planned.”

What the cuts mean for people with hearing loss:

For those requiring a Hearing Test or a Hearing Aid

Appointment costs - are no longer fully covered by ACC. Claimants now need to pay a portion of the costs towards the hearing assessment and fitting of their hearing aids.
Hearing Aid costs - ACC will now only contribute a portion of the cost of claimant’s hearing aid(s). Claimants will need to fund the rest themselves even if their entire hearing loss was caused by work-related noise.

Maintenance and Repairs of Hearing Instruments

Repairs at the Audiologist’s Clinic – Claimants are entitled to 2 repairs/services at the audiology clinic paid for by ACC. After this ACC will not cover the costs of any service carried out by the audiologist and claimants may be asked to pay for parts and service.
Repairs when the hearing aids need to go to the Hearing Aid Manufacturer – should hearing aids need to be sent to the hearing aid manufacturer, ACC will pay up to $200 every two years towards the repair cost. This means that if the repair costs more than $200 or if the same or another hearing aid needs repaired again within the 2 years, claimants will need to contribute towards the costs. This clearly discriminates against those people with noise induced hearing loss in two ears
“The rest of New Zealand needs to know how ruthless the Government is being towards people with hearing loss. 1 January 2011 is a sorry day for the country and for those with hearing loss,” says Mr Stubbing.

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

ENDS

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