17 Jun 2010

ACC accused of pushing through hearing aid changes

9:06 am on 17 June 2010

The Accident Compensation Corporation is being accused of rushing through cuts that will hurt people who rely on ACC for hearing aids.

ACC is proposing changes to regulations that would reduce cover for loss of hearing.

At present ACC covers hearing loss as a personal injury if it's caused by an accident, treatment injury, or gradual process noise exposure at work.

ACC is now considering a part charge for hearing aids and fitting fees.

The Audiology Society estimates between 58,000 - 70,0000 people could be affected by the changes.

It says the time frame for submissions was inadequate and the rigidity of the closing date gives the impression that the changes are a done deal.

Minister's response

ACC Minister Nick Smith says cuts to cover for hearing loss are necessary to make the system fairer.

He says employers, who pay levies to ACC, should not have to become the funder for people with age-related hearing loss.

But Dr Smith says ACC will continue to meet its responsibilities to people who lose their hearing through an injury or work-related noise.