The ACC scheme is a social contract. Before ACC came into being, New Zealanders were able to sue each other for personal injury. We gave up that right, in return for the no-fault, comprehensive cover scheme that is ACC.
National wants to erode the comprehensive cover aspect of the scheme in an ominous way. They are proposing to remove the right to be covered by ACC for people who suffer a hearing loss of less than 6%.
Hearing loss has only ever been covered by ACC if it has been caused by an accident, by the work environment of an employee, or by medical treatment. You don’t get cover if it is caused by a natural process or by a disease or infection.
But even if your hearing loss is caused by an accident or by your work environment, Nick Smith wants to deny you ACC cover if you are only a little bit deaf.
It’s like denying you cover if you have only a small fracture, or if you have only minor ligament damage. Maybe those types of injuries are the next on his list of things to deny cover for.
But if you suffer only mild deafness, do you get back the right to sue the person who caused it? Of course not! You’ll have to meet the cost of hearing aids and any other costs arising from it yourself.
This proposal cuts at the heart of the no-fault, comprehensive cover nature of the ACC scheme.
It’s just not fair!