In recognition of World Hearing Day, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) announced that she is reintroducing the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act that would expand Medicare to cover hearing aids for beneficiaries.

Hearing loss affects nearly 48 million Americans and, left untreated, can have serious emotional, social, and medical consequences for older adults. Research has shown older adults with hearing loss are 32% more likely to require hospitalization, face a 24% increased risk for cognitive impairment, and can suffer from isolation and depression. A 10-year longitudinal study of patients in Baltimore found that those with hearing loss had a higher probability of developing dementia, with the probability rising as the severity of the hearing loss increased.

“Without hearing aids, many seniors cannot hear, cannot interact with family, friends, neighbors, their community—and that becomes incredibly isolating,” said Dingell. “Hearing aids are critical to ensuring seniors can live healthy lives with dignity and Medicare should cover this critical, life-saving device, and in the end it would be cost-saving. No one should feel isolated, confused, or shut out from the world because they cannot afford the treatment they need.”

“Untreated hearing loss can be costly, leading to increased hospitalization, cases of depression, and cognitive decline,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM). “Medical research continues to demonstrate a link between untreated hearing loss and the early onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If hearing aid coverage could slow the onset of these dreaded neurological diseases, millions of seniors and their families could live a better life and billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid spending could be saved. That’s why the National Committee fully supports Representative Debbie Dingell’s bill, the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act, to add hearing benefits to Medicare. This bill just makes good economic and policy sense.”

According to the announcement, one of Dingell’s top priorities is bringing the nation’s long-term care system into the 21st century. The Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act is said to address one piece of the puzzle by improving access to hearing aids and related examinations. The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on insurance programs that provide services to help with hearing loss.

The Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act is cosponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Kathleen Rice (NY-04), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09).

Source: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell