HCIA has worked closely with the Australian Department of Health to ensure that the Hearing Services Program remains responsive and accessible to the needs of people with hearing loss during the COVID 19 pandemic. As a result, many activities (such as refittings, batteries and maintenance) are now handled through telehealth arrangements. These new arrangements help keep people with hearing loss connected during this unprecedented health crisis.
HCIA welcomes the decision by the NSW Workers’ Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) to withdraw its ILARS Hearing Aids and Hearing Loss Claims Policy with effect from 1 July 2020. This means that WIRO will provide funding to pursue a claim for hearing aids for eligible injured workers regardless of whether the claim is accompanied by a claim for lump sum compensation.
HCIA acknowledges the serious safety issues of button batteries in general consumer goods, particularly for young children. Hearing devices, however, do not pose the same risk as other consumer products because of their exclusive use of zinc air batteries which pose lower risks than other button battery types.
Hearing devices are subject to stringent regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which assures Australian consumers that these devices are safe and meet high standards of quality and efficacy.
In March 2019, after issuing a Safety Warning Notice warning to the Australian public about the dangers of button batteries, the Assistant Treasurer asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to advise the Government on regulatory options to address button battery safety. HCIA responded to both the ACCC’s Issues Paper (August 2019) and its Options Consultation (March 2020) to support an exemption for hearing devices.
Read our submissions:
On Wednesday 4 March 2020 during Hearing Awareness Week, the Hearing Care Industry Association held its 6th Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament House at which it launched the 2020 Hearing for Life report. This report puts the case for access to the Hearing Services Program for people with hearing loss of working age on low incomes.
Read the report and more about our Parliamentary event: HCIA’s Parliamentary Breakfast – Hearing Awareness Week 2020
The MBS is a list of health professional services subsidised by the Australian Government including consultations, diagnostic tests and operations related to hearing.
Established in 2015, the MBS Review Taskforce (the Taskforce) is considering how MBS items can be better aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and practice, and improve health outcomes for patients. In 2019, HCIA responded to Taskforce recommendations concerning hearing items. Subsequently, HCIA has been invited to participate in an implementation working group.
HCIA contributed to the TGA’s consultation about regulatory options for products used for and by people with disabilities including assistive devices, such as hearing devices. HCIA’s submission recommended that hearing devices remain within the regulatory scope of the Therapeutic Goods Act to ensure the quality and efficacy of devices available in Australia.
Read our submission: Products used for and by people with disabilities Options for amending the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Determination 2018
In May 2018, the Commonwealth Government notified HCIA and other stakeholders of a review of hearing services legislation. This “red tape” review is to ensure hearing services regulations are up to date and identify opportunities to streamline, simplify or reduce regulatory burdens.
HCIA provided its initial response to the Department of Health in May 2018 and is pleased the Department adopted many of our suggestions. In May 2019, HCIA made a further submission to respond to questions arising from the Department’s consultation process. Our perspective is informed by the principles of good regulation and the importance of ensuring regulation reflects changes in administration and evolving hearing services and technology.
HCIA believes that streamlining regulation has the potential to protect the interests of consumers while minimising the regulatory burden on providers.
New legislation and a new provider contract took effect on 1 October 2019. A transition period has been allowed for certain changes which must be implemented by 1 April 2020.
Read more about the changes.
Australia’s first Hearing Health Roadmap aims to improve the lives of the millions of Australians affected by hearing loss through a coordinated approach to improving hearing health.
The Government commenced the consulting process for the Roadmap in 2018 and finalised it in March 2019.
HCIA contributed to the development of the Roadmap through presentation on the Hearing Health Committee from the outset working in partnership with other stakeholders in the hearing sector.
Extensive consultation and discussion with stakeholders in the hearing sector, including consumer representatives, resulted in eight key priorities including:
- a public awareness campaign,
- child ear health checks,
- increased availability of Australia’s sign language,
- improved aged care hearing services, and
- more support for people on low incomes.
A further 147 actions highlight the broad range of initiatives the Government and hearing sector can collaborate on.
Download a copy of the Roadmap to Hearing Health.
HCIA acknowledges the ACCC report released yesterday concerning the provision of hearing health services. Our members take the matters discussed in the report very seriously and are committed to ensuring hearing impaired Australians receive the very best possible care.
The industry has a very high satisfaction rate and receives only a very small number of complaints. Notwithstanding this, HCIA is currently investigating the specific details and examples provided in the report and is committed to working with the ACCC to ensure that industry regulations and standards are appropriate.
While we have robust frameworks in place for our health professionals to ensure they provide the most appropriate care for each individual’s needs, and we constantly strive to improve the service and care we offer to Australians living with hearing loss, we welcome the opportunity to address any matters of concern and to work closely with the ACCC.
Hearing Care Industry Association
HCIA provided a submission and gave testimony to the Joint Standing Committee Inquiry on the National Disability Insurance Scheme Inquiry into the provision of hearing services under the NDIS.
HCIA seeks a contestable environment for the provision of quality hearing care services to the NDIS, the maintenance of a role for government where it is best placed to do so, and the need for NDIS participants to be assisted as appropriate to make informed choices.
HCIA members will be well prepared to serve all clients under the NDIS however, much more certainty is needed about the NDIS and how it relates to hearing impaired Australians.
To review the submission click here: HCIA Submission NDIS Inquiry 2017