Member Update on ACC Amendment Bill
The Minister for ACC Hon Carmel Sepuloni has announced a suite of proposed amendments to the ACC legislation including a reduction of the threshold for injury related hearing loss cover from 6% to 5%.
The NZAS has been advocating for removal of the injury related hearing loss threshold for a number of years in meetings with ACC and MBIE. More recently the ACC Futures Coalition, which NZAS is a member of, has been actively advocating for the removal of the hearing loss threshold as part of a number of changes they were seeking to the ACC legislation. Janet Houghton is the NZAS representative on this group and has been working with Hazel Armstrong on this issue.
Speaking on behalf of the ACC Futures Coalition Hazel Armstrong said “We were hoping it would be removed entirely, as it is the only exclusion that uses a percentage impairment to determine cover in the Act and it connot be reached without substantial hearing loss. 5% is an improvement but the underlying approach still remains”.
It is anticipated that the amendments would come into effect mid 2022.
See below an exert from the paper to Cabinet regarding this proposed change.
I propose to reduce the threshold for injury-related hearing loss cover from 6% to 5%
|33||ACC only funds hearing aids when they are needed due to an injury. As clinicians’ views on when a hearing aid is necessary will vary, the AC Act contains features designed to ensure that claimants receive effective treatment and consistent outcomes. These include a minimum cover threshold of 6% injury-related hearing loss and an age scale.|
|34||Prior to 2010, there was no threshold. This resulted in variable provision of hearing aids by individual clinicians, based on differing views on the threshold for clinical benefit from hearing aids. For example, in some cases a claimant with 4% injury-related hearing loss would receive hearing aids, while another with 7% injury-related hearing loss would not.|
|35||The 6% injury-related hearing loss cover threshold was introduced to provide a more consistent outcome for claimants, and to address the unsustainable growth in hearing loss claims for ACC (11% per annum). However setting the threshold at 6%, rather than 5%, restricts the legitimate needs of some claimants to access hearing devices funded by ACC.|
|36||Lowering the threshold to 5% will provide cover for claimants with 5-5.9% injury-related hearing loss, who have legitimate needs for hearing aids. It is estimated that an additional 200 people per year would benefit from this.|
|37||I am seeking Cabinet’s agreement to amend the AC Act to lower the 6% threshold to 5% to ensure greater support to those with low-level hearing loss. This will provide greater equity within the Scheme and is expected to have a minimal financial impact (detailed in the Financial Implications section below).|