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Children's hearing aid bill hits unusual roadblock | Families

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Children's hearing aid bill hits unusual roadblock
Families, Health, Moms, News
Children's hearing aid bill hits unusual roadblock

ATLANTA -- Parent advocates are facing an unusual roadblock as they push for a bill that would make children's hearing aids more affordable for Georgia families.

House Bill 74 would require private insurance companies in Georgia to pay for the cost of children's hearing aids, which can run up to $6,000 every three to five years.

The bill is sponsored by the House Majority Whip, Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta), and it has support from both parties. It also received a favorable response during a House Insurance Committee hearing.

"The hearing was two weeks ago, and it was very successful," said parent advocate Sara Kogon. "And now we're in a holding pattern until the Governor's office appoints a mandate study committee."

A different bill that was signed into law almost two years ago requires any new mandated health insurance benefit to be reviewed by a Special Advisory Commission, appointed by the Governor.

That Commission is still being formed.

"We've had people we have asked to serve on that commission who have turned us down, so we're continuing to find the individuals to meet the slots required under that legislation," Gov. Nathan Deal told 11Alive News. "We have been working to try to get the membership on there. We have enough in place where they can have a quorum for a meeting."

After almost two years, the commission's first meeting is set for Mar. 12. It will have at least six months to issue a report and recommendation on any new bills.

The delay could push back any real debate on the children's hearing aids bill until next year.

"We're looking at a small universe of children, but this can make an enormous impact in their lives," said parent advocate Kelly Jenkins. 

"I think once the awareness is there, we're gonna move forward," Kogon added. 

Medicaid and PeachCare cover the cost, but most private insurance companies don't cover them.

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Advocates argue the bill would help children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford hearing aids.

"It's a very lonely place to be when you know exactly what your child needs to succeed, and you can't provide it to them," Kogon said.

Kogan and Jenkins formed a parents' advocacy group called "Let Georgia Hear" after they saw what a difference hearing aids made for their children with hearing loss. 

Families, Health, Moms, News