�grace�s Law� Clears Full Senate

Bill Would Require Insurers to Cover Hearing Aids for Kids

TRENTON � A measure sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Fred H. Madden, which would require health care providers to cover the cost of hearing aids for children age 15 and younger was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.

�When left undiagnosed and untreated in children, hearing loss can impede the development of speech, language and cognitive development,� said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. �These developmental delays can cause a need for costly special education services later on in life. By calling upon health insurers to cover the cost of hearing aids for kids, we are renewing our commitment to the growth and educational success of New Jersey�s children.�

The Senators� bill, S-467, is named for Grace Gleba, a nine-year-old Washington Township (Warren County) girl with a severe hearing impairment. The bill would require health insurers in New Jersey to provide coverage for medically necessary hearing aids for children 15 years old and younger. The coverage would be required every 24 months and be limited to $1,000 per hearing aid. The bill would also allow families to select hearing aids priced higher than $1,000, as long as they are willing to pay the difference.

�There are so many factors that come into play when making sure that New Jersey�s children live full, well adjusted lives,� said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. �This bill would help to provide hearing impaired kids with the chance to be all they can be, without the fear of missing out on learning experiences because their parents� insurance refuses to pay for a hearing aid.�

The Senators noted that the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management reports that detecting and treating hearing loss at birth saves $400,000 per child in special education costs by the time that child graduates from high school. They also noted that currently, New Jersey law requires a hearing screening for all newborns, but has no way of ensuring that treatment is also received.

This bill now heads to the Assembly for approval.

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