Help Washington State Kids Hear
Children need to be able to hear in order to thrive. Without hearing aids, children with hearing loss experience social and cognitive delays, struggle to develop language skills, risk falling behind in school, and may be unfairly penalized later in life.
Hearing aids can be expensive, and while they’re covered under Washington State Medicaid, private insurers in our state aren’t required to cover them–and most don’t. One in five families can’t afford hearing aids for their children, according to the Better Hearing Institute.
In the 2020 legislative session, HB 2410 /SB 6291 were considered but did not pass. These bills would have required insurance carriers to cover hearing instruments, including bone conduction devices, the initial assessment, fitting, adjustment, auditory training and ear molds for children 18 years of age or younger, up to a cost of $2,500 per hearing aid every 36 months. This investment is less than the costs of helping these children later on, when the harm is already done.
The 2020 proposed bills did not get through their respective committees because of the assumed budget impact (Washington State must pay the additional cost). However, the cost analysis was not well done, and the new bill’s sponsors, Reps. Emily Wicks and Tina Orwall, are determined to ensure the bill’s passage in 2021.