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Weinstein: Reps. Russo, Weinstein unveil "Madeline's Law" supporting early stage intervention for hard-of-hearing

HB 243 would allow health insurance coverage of hearing aids for children
June 6, 2019
Casey Weinstein News

State Reps. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) today joined audiologist and educational advocate Dr. Carrie Spangler, a constituent of Rep. Weinstein’s whose child is hard-of-hearing and members of Let Ohio Hear to discuss House Bill (HB) 243, which supports early stage intervention for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals by making hearing aids for children more affordable for Ohio families.

“Hearing is essential to a child's development and learning, especially since their young brains are undergoing rapid development,” said Russo. “This is smart policy that makes critical early stage intervention more affordable for middle-class families and, ultimately, saves the state and taxpayers considerable costs.”

Current Ohio law often considers hearing aids as a “cosmetic device” like plastic surgery or liposuction, exempting them from health insurance benefit coverage. HB 243 requires Ohio insurance companies to cover a portion of the cost of hearing aids for children.

“As legislators, we have an obligation to ensure the success of future generations, regardless of any pre-existing conditions. We are failing to do that for deaf and hard-of-hearing kids here in Ohio,” said Weinstein. “It is time for us to join the growing number of states that have stepped up and recognized what a pervasive problem the lack of coverage is and let the people know that when we fight for families, we fight for all.”

Early stage intervention for hearing loss prior to six months of age is critical for child development, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The department recommends babies with hearing loss begin intervention and receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

“As an audiologist and as an individual who has lived my entire life with hearing loss, I depend on my hearing aids in order be a productive, contributing Ohioan,” said Dr. Carrie Spangler. “Without affordable hearing aids, I would not be able to participate in my hearing world, having conversations with my hearing family, friends, and co-workers. Hearing aids do not fix my hearing loss, but they do provide the necessary tool I need to live life to its fullest potential.”

This research has resulted in universal newborn hearing screenings in nearly all hospitals in the United States. In 2016, it was reported over 98 percent of newborn babies were tested for hearing loss.

While more children are being tested and recommend treatment at an early age, many are unable to afford these expensive but critical devices. “Madeline’s Law” would require health insurance coverage for hearing aids up to $2,500 every two years for individuals 21 and under who are insured.  

The bill now awaits further consideration in the House Health Committee.