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Rep. Cartwright Re-Introduces Legislation to Provide Coverage of Audiology Services for Medicare Beneficiaries

Jun 12, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright announced the re-introduction of the Help Extend Auditory Relief (HEAR) Act with the support of 10 members of Congress.  Cartwright first introduced the HEAR Act in 2013.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one third of individuals over the age of 65, and nearly half of those over 85, report some degree of hearing loss.  Within Pennsylvania, 1,601,000 residents report some degree of hearing loss, which represents 12.9 percent of the state population.

The HEAR Act would provide Medicare coverage for hearing rehabilitation services, including a comprehensive audiology assessment to determine if a hearing aid is appropriate.  The bill would also extend Medicare coverage to hearing aids.

“This is the beginning of a national conversation about how to make hearing aids more affordable and we must continue to strengthen Medicare as seniors struggle for access to affordable healthcare,” said Rep. Cartwright.  “After years of hard work, Pennsylvania’s seniors have earned the right to a high quality of life during their golden years.”

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), people aged 50 and older with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, anger and frustration, emotional instability and paranoia than those who wore hearing aids.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) have endorsed the HEAR Act.

“Today, many Medicare beneficiaries suffer isolation and severe health problems because they cannot afford to buy hearing aids which cost thousands of dollars. For that reason, the National Committee’s current Legislative Agenda includes support for Medicare coverage for hearing examinations and hearing aids,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of NCPSSM.

“HLAA receives numerous calls and email from people seeking help and information about hearing loss. By far the call we receive most often is the one seeking help purchasing hearing aids. It’s particularly troubling that seniors with hearing loss have very few places to turn when they cannot afford a hearing aid. We will never forget the son who called us desperate for help and guilt-ridden that he could not afford to finance the cost of two hearing aids for his 85 year old mother,” said Anna Gilmore Hall, Executive Director of the HLAA.

Additional endorsing groups include: Hearing Loss Association of America, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, National Association of the Deaf, National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare