The Hearing Aid/Cochlear Implant Bill is out!

 The 2009 legislative session started in January, along with the bill that would require hearing aids and cochlear implants to be covered by group and individual insurance plans in Wisconsin

Thanks to many legislators, especially Senator Lassa and her staff Jessica Kelly, the bill is back and is better than ever! The bill this year is different than last session. We are excited to say that the bill is much stronger. In many instances, the language is streamlined and concepts are defined clearly so as to avoid confusion after the bill becomes law. Some of the substantive changes include:

1) coverage of children up through the age of 18 years old;

2) coverage of treatment including services, diagnosis, procedures, surgery and therapy;

3) defines "cochlear implants" to include all implantable devices; and

4) removes language from the bill last session that would have required families to pay back the cost of hearing aids and cochlear implants if they voluntarily left the insurance company before a years time.

There are two versions of the bill that are identical. One has been introduced in the Senate, and one in the Assembly. The links to the bills are: 

Senate Bill 27: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/SB27hst.html

Assembly Bill 16: http://legis.state.wi.us/2009/data/AB16hst.html

 

The Senate version of the bill (SB 27) was introduced by Senators Lassa, Hansen, Lehman, Risser, Taylor, 
Erpenbach, Vinehout, Darling, S. Fitzgerald, Coggs and Kapanke; cosponsored by Representatives Cullen,
Bernard Schaber, Schneider, Sheridan, Berceau, Hilgenberg, Hraychuck, Vruwink, Mason, Black, Pasch,
Sherman, Pocan, Jorgensen, Sinicki, Stone, Krusick, Smith, Seidel, Montgomery, Parisi, Turner, Grigsby,
Richards, Zigmunt, A. Williams, Soletski, Hixson and Dexter. The bill has been directed to the
 
Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue.
The committee is headed by Erpenbach, and also includes Carpenter, Robson, Lassa, Lazich, Kanavas,
and Darling. 

The Assembly Bill (AB 16) was introduced by Introduced by Representatives Cullen, Bernard Schaber,
Schneider, Sheridan, Berceau, Hilgenberg, Hraychuck, Vruwink, Mason, Black, Pasch, Sherman, Pocan,
Jorgensen, Sinicki, Stone, Krusick, Smith, Seidel, Montgomery, Parisi, Turner, Grigsby, Richards,
Zigmunt, A. Williams, Soletski, Hixson and Dexter; cosponsored by Senators Lassa, Hansen, Lehman,
Risser, Taylor, Erpenbach, Vinehout, Darling, S. Fitzgerald, Coggs and Kapanke. It has been directed to
the
 Committee on Insurance headed by Cullen. Also represented on the committee are Molepski,
Ziegelbauer, Parisi, Berceau, Hebl, Nygren, Suder, Vos and Roth. 

So, what can you do?

1)    Find out who your legislators are by going to: http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx

2)      Write your legislators to tell them that you are their constituent, that you support the bill, and why you support the bill (i.e., you are a parent of a child with hearing loss and your child). It is important to mention the benefits of hearing aids and cochlear implants and paint a picture of how life would be different without them. It may be helpful to check out a simple fact sheet on why this bill is important. (http://www.letkidshear.org/?q=node/5)  
If your legislator is a sponsor or a co-sponsor of the bill, thank them for their support, but still let them know how you or someone you know will be positively impacted by the bill.

3)      If you have not already, sign up for legislative updates (http://www.letkidshear.org/?q=node/1), and tell your story on the LetKidsHear.org website (http://www.letkidshear.org/?q=taxonomy/term/1).

4)      Pass this email on to others so that they can write their legislators!

 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Alicia Boehme at aliciab@drwi.org.