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State health plan could cover children's hearing aids

9:35 AM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
Parent advocates will continue pushing to require private insurance plans to cover the cost of children's hearing aids.
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ATLANTA -- Georgia parents pushing for insurance mandates to cover the cost of children's hearing aids were thrilled to see Governor Nathan Deal's fiscal year budget report for 2015.

The report includes an $853,980 increase in funds for the Georgia State Health Benefit Plan to provide coverage for hearing aids for children effective January 1, 2015.

If the budget plans is approved, the new coverage would apply to more than 650,000 state employees in Georgia.

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"This is an important first step to ensuring all of Georgia's deaf and hard-of-hearing children have access to hearing aids," said Kelly Jenkins, Co-founder of Let Georgia Hear, a parent-led organization working to pass insurance coverage for minors. "We applaud Governor Deal for leading the charge and ensuring that the children of state employees are covered, and we will continue working to secure coverage for all children."

Hearing aids can cost as much as $6,000 per pair and must be replaced every three to five years as a child grows. This is the equivalent of roughly $42,000 per child who requires hearing aids before they reach the age of 21. 

While Medicaid does cover children's hearing aids, most private insurance companies do not.

Let Georgia Hear will continue to work with Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta), who is sponsoring The Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act, known as HB74. 

Twenty states have passed legislation requiring broad coverage of hearing aids for minors. Let Georgia Hear is working to make sure Georgia is next.

Lawmakers must still sign off on the governor's proposal and could make changes under the current budget process. 

Lawmakers are required to pass a balanced budget before the end of the session.

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