Congresswoman Dingell Introduces Bill to Allow Medicare to Cover Hearing Aids
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced legislation yesterday that would allow Medicare to provide coverage for hearing aids. HR 1653, the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2015, would address a problem too many seniors face. Today, the average price of a pair of hearing aids ranges between $4,400 and $4,500, a price tag many cannot afford.
“I have learned in recent months how many seniors are burdened by this problem,” said Dingell. “When I learned of this, the ENT doctor who brought it to my attention told me more than half the patients she saw who needed a hearing aid were unable to afford or obtain one. No one should feel isolated, confused or shutout from the world around them because they cannot afford the treatment they need. This bill is just one piece of the puzzle to bring our fragmented and unnavigable health care system into the 21st century to better serve seniors and families.”
“Hearing Loss Association of America is thrilled that Representative Debbie Dingell has introduced a bill that would provide Medicare coverage for hearing aids” said Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of Hearing Loss Association of America. “Seniors with hearing loss who depend on Medicare have been denied access to hearing aids for too long. We applaud Representative Dingell for introducing this critically important bill.”
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, affecting nearly 20 million Americans over the age of 45. The problem will continue to grow as baby boomers age, and left untreated, it has serious emotional and social consequences for older adults. A study by the National Council on Aging found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids. Additionally, some studies have demonstrated a higher risk of dementia in people with hearing loss.
Dingell’s bill would improve access to hearing aids and related examinations by removing part of the Social Security Act that prevents Medicare from covering hearing aids. The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on insurance programs that provide services to help with hearing loss.
Addressing long-term care for the aging population is one of Congresswoman Dingell’s top priorities. Currently we have a system that is broken, not integrated, and difficult to navigate. This week, she offered a budget amendment to establish a real long-term care system in the United States to ensure seniors and those with disabilities can get the care they need. For more information, please click here.