Michigan State Representative’s Dale Zorn (R-Onsted) and Samantha Steckloff, (D-Farmington Hills), introduced a plan designed to help ensure treatment for hearing loss and hearing aid devices are covered by health insurance for all Michigan children.
Zorn’s legislation, House Bill 4944, would ensure that Michigan children have insurance coverage through age 19 that covers treatment for hearing loss and up to $3,000 in coverage per hearing aid every 36 months. House Bill 4936, sponsored by Steckloff, ensures coverage is available for audiological exams, hearing aid evaluations and maintenance, and audiologist or speech-language pathology services.
“Much like the loss of vision, hearing disabilities create a profound disadvantage for the development of our youth,” Zorn says. “Children deprived of hearing assistance face obstacles in education and social development.”
Former Miss Michigan KT Maviglia-Morgan, who suffers from hearing loss and wears bilateral hearing aids, championed Zorn’s legislation during a press conference at the Michigan State Capitol.
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“Growing up, I know what it was like for my family to have to pay $5,000 each time I needed new hearing aids,” Maviglia-Morgan says. “As two service professionals with three kids, this was a lot. My family was able to make it work, even though it was very difficult for them. However, there are many families in Michigan where this is just not an option and children are going to school without the proper hearing devices.
Tressa Sanders, whose daughter is deaf/hard of hearing in both ears, also voiced support for the plan. She said her daughter’s hearing loss was not identified until she was 3 yeas old.
“It’s not part of our package in the state of Michigan to identify early-on intervention for children with hearing loss,” Sanders says. “At 3-and-a-half she finally got her hearing aid. She was able to start talking at 4 years old. Now she’s 8, and she’s main streaming in third grade at the elementary school with support from many people in the school district and a private speech pathologist.”
The legislation is similar to measures Zorn has sponsored in previous years.
“I’m glad to have Rep. Steckloff working alongside me on this important issue this year,” Zorn says. “With bipartisan support, I’m hopeful we can finally get this across the finish line and connect Michigan kids with the level of care they need to achieve academic success and reach their life goals.”
Featured: Michigan Stae Capitol. Photo: Dreamstime