Advocates fight for children's hearing aids to be covered by insurance

Posted at 4:25 PM, Feb 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-20 18:28:14-05

Back in 2003, two Idaho sisters with hearing impairments spoke before congress about the importance of hearing screenings for newborns.

The bill passed the senate, making it a requirement in all states that newborns are tested for hearing impairment. 

“Now we can diagnose it but we need to continue taking care of the problem,” explained Emily Jones, one of the girl who testified before congress.

Now both of those girls are women and their on to the next step in the fight.

Idaho is one of more than a dozen states that does not require private health insurance providers to cover pediatric hearing aids. 

On Tuesday, they spoke before lawmakers in support of a resolution that urged them to solve the problem and make sure pediatric hearing aids are covered by insurance. They cost around $6,000 a set and they have to be replaced roughly every three years. 

"Nothing would make me happier to know that other children don't have to go through the agonizing struggle that our family had to go through,” said Corinne Coleman.

“Recently in a meeting someone said if you cannot communicate you will not be successful,” Jones said as she testified before the health and welfare committee. “I know she was trying to say that to get another point across but that really stuck with me that meant if I can’t hear and I cant communicate, then what can I do.”

The resolution was unanimously passed and while they are thrilled with the result, they said it’s just a step in the long road ahead to get hearing aids provided to all of Idaho’s children who need them.

If you just say yes this is a problem and then don't fix it it’s really hard, so this is just another step in the process,” said Jones.

The girls said they will do anything to allow families to have access to the hearing aids that have so greatly impacted their lives.  

"Sign me up. I’ll do whatever I can. I’ll be fighting till the day I die. This is my calling. That’s my duty and nothing would make me happier,” said Coleman. 

Tuesday’s resolution now heads to the house floor for full approval. Advocates are hoping to bring a bill before the legislation in the next session.