Friday, February 14, 2014

We Support Direct Access to Audiologists!

Direct Access: 

Our home state WA Representative, Jim McDermott, has introduced the Access to Hearing Healthcare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4035, direct access legislation). This bill eliminates the need for Medicare patients to obtain a physician referral prior to visiting an audiologist for an evaluation. Studies have shown a significant cost savings for the Medicare program if it adopts this legislation and it will allow more people access to hearing health services.

Audiologists are master's and doctoral level professionals holding state licensure in all states and the District of Columbia. In fact, audiologists are the only professionals who are university trained and licensed to specifically identify, evaluate, diagnose, and treat hearing disorders. The Medicare requirement for a physician referral pre-empts state licensure laws which currently allow patient's direct access to audiologists. Veterans, through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), for example, have been allowed direct access to audiologists for over 15 years, with successful and cost-saving results. Members of Congress and federal employees may also access audiologists directly through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP). 
Beneficiaries in the Medicare program should have the same freedom to access audiologists for covered hearing and balance testing.
Federal employees and members of Congress have direct access to audiologists. This bill would afford Medicare patients the same direct access to an audiologist. Please support this legislation by clicking here and sending a message to your congressman:

Click here to support Direct Access:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ohio bill would provide hearing aid coverage for children and adults

Ohio legislators recently introduced a bill that would make Ohio the 4th state to require health insurers to include hearing aids as basic health coverage for people of all ages (not just children, but also adults).
The bill, SB 257, would provide coverage of up to $1500 per ear over a three-year period. This amount would apply to the hearing aids, assessment, fitting and adjustment. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hearing Aid Bill Re-Introduced in Olympia for 2014!

We're happy to tell you that House Bill 1356 was re-introduced last week for the 2014 session! Like 2013, it's currently listed as having 12 co-sponsors.

A summary of the bill can be found here:

The bill would require health insurance plans in the state of Washington to cover a portion of hearing aids purchased for children and adults.

We urge everyone that believes people with hearing loss deserve greater access to treatment to please contact their legislator and encourage them to support and co-sponsor this legislation.

You can easily comment on the bill and notify your local legislators in a quick minute by clicking the link here:

Personal letters can have an impact, see a sample letter here.

Calling is even more effective and the sooner you contact your legislator, the greater chance there is of the bill getting a hearing this year and possibly going up for a vote.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What does it cost to ensure access to good hearing?

One of the biggest arguments against any type of insurance "mandate" is that it increases the cost of premiums to those with insurance that "don't need" a particular service, etc. The truth is that when it comes to hearing aids, there have been several states who have published studies about the financial impact to insured residents if they mandate hearing aid coverage for children

Quite literally, just a few cents investment today could not only help improve the lives of hearing impaired kids, but could potentially save local schools and tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here's just a few examples:

North Carolina: $0.03 per month increase in insurance premium on insured residents.

California: $0.03 per month average increase in health insurance premium increase

Wisconsin: $0.17 cents per privately insured person, per month for hearing aids and cochlear implants.

South Carolina: proposed legislation is estimated at $0.35 annually or approximately $0.03 per month increase in premiums.

Pay this today...                                                                 ...or pay this later:

These minuscule figures are less than the typical average premium increase per year. 

Would you be willing to invest less than $1 per year of your insurance premium to ensure all children in our state have the opportunity to hear?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tell Legislature to Reintroduce Hearing Aid Bill in 2014!

Dear Supporters,

Please contact your legislators and the members of the Health & Wellness Committee to reintroduce and vote on HB 1356. With the new session under way, it's important that legislators hear from their constituents:

Go to the link and click on "comment on this bill" tab to tell your legislators how you feel.

Please urge your legislators and members of the Health & Wellness Committee to reintroduce and allow a hearing on this critical legislation. Thank you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Improve the Lives of WA Hearing Impaired Children

We Need Your Help!

Last year, WA introduced a bill to authorize hearing aid coverage. Unfortunately, due to healthcare issues (i.e., the Affordable Care Act), our legislators were too afraid to take this bill out of committee despite growing support and pleas by parents and families.

Know the Facts:

Each year in the state of Washington, approximately 200-250 babies are born with permanent hearing loss. Approximately 90-95% of these children could benefit form the use of hearing aids.

Image: Siemens Hearing Instruments
Unfortunately for many Washington families, the vast majority of private insurance plans  specifically exclude  hearing aids from being covered. 

In a tough economy, WA families are left searching to find a way to pay for these devices for their children (which on average cost $2000/ear or more) and many are forced to decide whether they have to use state Medicaid benefits in order to afford them due to the high cost and need for replacement every 3 to 5 years.

Studies have shown that children with hearing loss who do not receive early intervention cost WA schools (taxpayers) an additional $420,000 on average in special education costs alone. Yet, requiring private insurance plans to provide some degree of hearing aid coverage often costs less than a dollar per year. 

We need your help to ensure Washington becomes the next state to require health benefit plans to provide some form of hearing aid coverage for children. Here's a few ways you can help:

1) Sign our online petition.

2) Write your state legislator(s). A simple letter or brief email can make a huge impact upon our decision-makers in Olympia. A sample letter can be found here.

3) Like our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter @WCHAA1.

Your support of Washington's hearing impaired children is truly appreciated!