December 20, 2019. Washington, D.C.—Today Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District and serves as a member of House Leadership, introduced legislation, co-lead by Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA), to ensure that private insurance companies provide coverage for osseointegrated hearing devices (“OIDs”), including bone anchored hearing aids (“BAHA”) and cochlear implants. The bill comes from a family in Broomfield whose daughter requires these devices.
Ally, a ten-year-old from Broomfield, Colorado and a constituent of Congressman Neguse’s, was born without a right ear or hearing canal and therefore requires the use of a BAHA. After Ally’s insurance company denied coverage of her hearing device, her mother Melissa formed the organization Ear Community to help advocate for insurance coverage of these hearing devices to ensure no person is left unable to hear because of private insurance companies’ refusal to provide coverage. The bill is titled “Ally’s Act” in her honor.
“For Ally and others with varying modes of hearing loss, OIDs are miraculous devices that create opportunities for them to actively participate in our communities,” said Congressman Neguse. “I am honored to have the opportunity to work alongside Melissa and Ally to create better access to these devices for individuals throughout our nation. We must ensure that insurance coverage for hearing devices is consistent and fair, to ensure every child can thrive and obtain the healthcare they deserve”
“Hearing device insurance coverage needs to be consistent, offering coverage for all ages on a national level. With a bill in place, we are one step closer to achieving the goal of creating improved, equitable hearing healthcare,” said Melissa Tumblin, Executive Director and Founder of Ear Community. “Hearing is fundamental to early education and speech development and needs to be provided for all those needing hearing assistance.”
“As the only Member of Congress with a cochlear implant, I know from firsthand experience the difference in the quality of life these devices can provide,” Congressman McKinley said.” “Ally’s Act will help thousands of Americans with severe hearing loss gain access to life-changing treatment.”
Many throughout the United States are born with hearing loss due to congenital anomalies, including aural atresia (underdeveloped or absent ear canals) and/or microtia (physically missing ears). OIDs help different forms of hearing loss than traditional hearing aids and are often the only hearing device that can restore hearing for these individuals.
“As someone who was born with severe conductive hearing loss, I know the passage of this bill will improve the quality of life in immeasurable ways for children and adults by creating affordable solutions that have not been available in the past,” said Rachel Songy, member of Ear Community’s Board of Directors. “This bill will be a huge step in helping more people to hear, especially those who have not had that chance before.”
“Access to hearing implants that can help adults stay heathy, connected and employed and children to have maximum access to language and learning is sometimes impeded by a lack of insurance coverage,” said Donna L. Sorkin MA, Executive Director of the American Cochlear Implant Alliance. “This bill will help open up important access to hearing health technology and related services—interventions which are cost effective and provide extraordinary quality of life benefits.”
“As the Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, I speak for our membership in supporting passage of this important legislation that would improve access to auditory implants in private insurance plans purchased by families on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace,” said Meredith Holcomb, AuD, CCC-A Chair, American Cochlear Implant Alliance and Assistant Professor and Director, Cochlear Implant Program, Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Ear Institute. “We are grateful to Congressman Joe Neguse for his interest in improving hearing healthcare for people of all ages.”
The bill is supported by the Ear Community, the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, the American Academy of Audiology, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.