Let Our Children Hear

Did you know that hearing aids aren’t covered by insurance in most states?  Did you know that hearing aids cost about $2500 each and need to be replaced every 3-5 years, especially for children?  Did you know that hearing tests are also not covered usually, and cost about $500 each and are done 1-4 times per year?

These costs add up quickly for families of children with hearing loss, especially when you are paying for other therapies and issues that your child might be dealing with.

We have the best insurance out there, and none of this is covered.

This is wrong.

Since finding this out when my daughter was diagnosed at 1 month of age with a mild-moderate sensorineural bilateral hearing loss, I have been flabbergasted at the injustice of this.  How could my doctor visit for a sore toe be covered 100%, but my daughter’s hearing loss is not covered at all?  How can hearing aids not be medically necessary?  Without them, she would never hear or understand the world around her.  It just sounds like a lot of mumbling to her.  She could have never learned to speak, and be integrated into a normal 1st grade classroom as she is now.  We have payed for everything, including a special preschool for her, because we knew that without it she would not have the opportunities that come naturally for our other children.  For her it is an uphill battle.  For her everything is a struggle, and it kills me.

What about the families that couldn’t afford hearing aids, tests, special schools, therapy, and everything we have been blessed to be able to pay for?  What do those children do? I weep for the struggle and agony the parents must go through.

There is some help in our state for children birth-3, but there is very little after that.  Many children have a progressive hearing loss that is not diagnosed until after three.  And children need new hearing aids to keep up with technology and daily  wear and tear.

This year I have been working with some other parents and professionals to see this changed in our state.  I have seen people come out of the woodwork who are directly affected by this.

HB 1356 was introduced in the WA state House of Representatives by Rep. Tami Green and co-sponsored by my local representative (whom I love by the way!) Rep. Gerry Pollet.

You can see the bill here http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2013&bill=1356

It has been introduced many times before and failed due to the strong opposition by insurance companies.  But we hoped this year might be the year.

Unfortunately I just learned last night that if it doesn’t get a hearing in the Health and Wellness committee by tomorrow, it will die in committee and not go to vote this session.

Can you do something for me?  If you live in the state of Washington, can you write to the members of the committee and ask them to give this bill a chance to be heard?  Tell them that you support what should be a basic right for our children to have access to hear the world around them.  Write to your local legislators and let them know that you vote, and you want them to support this bill when the time comes.  Your little voice really does make a huge difference here.  You can change the world one email or phone call at a time.

I am deeply grateful for your help.  And I remain hopeful for our kids, that if not this year, then soon…

House Health Care & Wellness Committee Members 

Cody, Eileen (D-34th) Chair   eileen.cody@leg..wa.gov

Jinkins, Laurie (D-27th) Vice Chair  laurie.jinkins@leg.wa.gov
Schmick, Joe (R-9th) *  joe.schmick@leg.wa.gov
Hope, Mike (R-44th) **  mike.hope@leg.wa.gov
Angel, Jan (R-26th)   jan.angel@leg.wa.gov
Clibborn, Judy (D-41st)  judy.clibborn@leg.wa.gov
Green, Tami (D-28th)  tami.green@leg.wa.gov
Harris, Paul (R-17th)  paul.harris@leg.wa.gov
Manweller, Matt (R-13th)  matt.manweller@leg.wa.gov
Moeller, Jim (D-49th)  jim.moeller@leg.wa.gov
Morrell, Dawn (D-25th)  dawn.morell@leg.wa.gov
Riccelli, Marcus (D-3rd)  marcus.riccelli@leg.wa.gov
Rodne, Jay (R-5th)  jay.rodne@leg.wa.gov
Ross, Charles (R-14th)  charles.ross@leg.wa.gov
Short, Shelly (R-7th)  shelly.short@leg.wa.gov
Tharinger, Steve (D-24th) steve.tharinger@leg.wa.gov
Van De Wege, Kevin (D-24th)  kevin.vandewege@leg.wa.gov