Frequently Asked Questions Regarding New Law

  • What does the law provide? Chapter 233 provides insurance coverage for hearing aids for children 21 years old and younger up to $2,000 per hearing aid for each hearing impaired ear in each 36-month period.
  • When is the effective date of the law?The law applies to all health plans that are delivered, issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2013. This means that coverage becomes effective as policies are renewed throughout 2013. Following this year, coverage will remain continuous under health insurance policies. Before you begin the process of purchasing hearing aids, check with your health insurance carrier to verify the specific date on which your coverage will be effective. Example: Your health insurance plan renews on July 1st. Coverage becomes effective under your policy on July 1st. This means that you may not purchase hearing aids for your child or seek coverage for related services and supplies under this law until July 1st.
  • What does the $2,000 cap include?The $2,000 cap includes coverage for each hearing aid device. An insured may select a higher-priced hearing aid and pay the difference in cost above the $2,000 limit for the device. Plans must also cover all services related to a covered hearing aid device, including the initial hearing aid evaluation, fitting and adjustments and supplies, including ear molds. These amounts are not included in the $2,000 coverage limit that applies to the hearing aid device, but are covered separately and outright under your plan.
  • Are batteries covered? Yes. Coverage under this law includes related services, including the initial hearing aid evaluation, hearing aid fittings and adjustments and supplies. Batteries are covered under the "supplies" section of the law. A billing code already exists for hearing aid batteries- your dispensing audiologist should have this.
  • How about ear molds? Ear molds are covered under this law.
  • Who is covered? Children 21 years of age or younger who are covered under fully-insured plans.
  • Who is not covered?Children who are covered under self-insured plans are not covered by this law. A self-insured (or self-funded) plan is one in which the employer assumes the financial risk for providing health care benefits to its employees, even if an insurance company is used to process the claims. Self-insured plans are governed by federal ERISA laws and are not subject to state mandates or regulation by the state Division of Insurance. This means that self-insured employers will not be required to provide hearing aid coverage under Chapter 233.
  • How do I know if my plan is fully-insured?You may find out if your plan is fully-insured by contacting your insurance carrier or your Human Resources department at your place of employment.
  • What do I do if I find out that my plan is self-insured? You may advocate for your child! Contact your employer to explain why they should add this coverage to their insurance plan. Often employers will follow state mandates by adding similar coverage. One reason employers decide to self-insure is so that they may customize a plan to meet the specific needs of their workforce. If an employee is in need of specific coverage, an employer may consider adding the benefit. The final decision rests with your employer.
  • What if my plan has a high deductible? Chapter 233 allows carriers to apply deductibles, coinsurance, co-payments or out-of-pocket limits to hearing aid devices, supplies and services related to hearing aids, but they may not be greater than any applied to other benefits covered in the health plan. If you have a high deductible that would effectively cancel out the benefit afforded by this law, you may wish to shop around for another health insurance carrier. If this is not possible, consider appealing to your health insurance carrier to provide the coverage. Every health insurance carrier has a dispute resolution process and must consider your appeal.
  • Must I live in Massachusetts to be covered under this law?Not necessarily. If you work for an employer that is located in Massachusetts but reside outside of Massachusetts, you are most likely eligible for benefits under Chapter 233. To be sure, check with your Human Resources department.
  • What if I live in Massachusetts but work for an out-of-state employer? If your employer is located outside Massachusetts, you are most likely ineligible for benefits under Chapter 233 because your employer would be subject to insurance mandates and oversight by the state in which it is located. To be sure, check with your Human Resources department.
  • What do I do once I find out that my child is eligible to purchase hearing aids under this law? Once you determine that your child is covered by a fully-funded plan and are certain of your renewal date, you will need a written statement from your child’s treating physician that the hearing aids are necessary. Either your child’s pediatrician or ENT may provide this written statement. Then, your child’s audiologist will recommend a hearing aid that best fits your child.
  • Can my child be denied hearing aids depending on how the hearing loss occurred? No. Chapter 233 provides that a child must be afforded coverage for hearing aids if a treating physician or ENT issues a written statement that the hearing aids are necessary regardless of how the hearing loss occurred (e.g., at birth, late onset, accident, illness).
  • Is this law based on income levels? No. Any child 21 years of age or younger who resides in Massachusetts, is covered by a fully-insured health plan and meets the other requirements listed in the law is eligible to receive the benefit.
  • Is there anything that I need to know about talking to my health insurance company? Always get the full name, phone number and extension of the insurance representative with whom you speak in the event that you or someone else will need to follow up on the conversation. Take notes during your discussions and keep the notes in a file or notebook so that you may refer to them again, if necessary.
  • What if I am eligible for coverage under this law but my insurance company denies or delays coverage? If you are denied coverage or coverage is unduly delayed by your insurance company, you may file an appeal or grievance with your insurance company or you may contact the Bureau of Managed Care at the Division of Insurance in Boston to file a complaint by phone, fax or e-mail. You may also contact the Office of Patient Protection at the Department of Public Health in Boston.
  • Additional resources:Bureau of Managed Care Division of Insurance Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations 1000 Washington Street, Suite 810 Boston, MA 02118 Tel: (617) 521-7372 Fax: (617) 521-7773 www.mass.gov/doi/ E-mail: bmc.mailbox@state.ma.us
  • Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program Department of Public Health 250 Washington Street, 5th Floor Boston, MA 02108 Tel: 1-800-882-1435

Friday, October 7, 2011

Join us for the Walk4Hearing on October 16th!

Join Team MassHAFCC on Sunday, October 16th for the Walk4Hearing to raise awareness and help eradicate the stigma associated with hearing loss.

Why we walk? Hearing loss is a public health issue in the United States:
    Where: Artesani Park (1234 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton) When: Registration @ 10am/ Walk @ 11am
  • 36 million people have some form of hearing loss
  • 22 million have noise-induced hear loss that could be prevented
  • More than 59,000 military members have disability status for hearing loss from current wars.
  • 30 school-aged children per 1,000 have a hearing loss

Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
To join Team MassHAFCC: go to HLAA's website (http://www.hearingloss.org/) and follow link to Walk4Hearing. Our team ID is 20490.

Money raised is shared between the national organization and local Walk sites.

We hope you'll join us!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Please call committee!

We need your help!

House Bill 52 is with the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. The committee must request a cost analysis (or a "mandate review report") from the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy before the committee can decide to release the bill. Only a few bills are costed out each session and we want to make sure House Bill 52 is costed out...or it will likely die in committee.

Please call Committee Chairmen Senator Richard Moore (617-722-1420) and Representative Steven Walsh (617-722-2430) to ask them to send House Bill 52 to the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy for a mandate review.

YOUR CALLS ARE VERY IMPORTANT!!

Thank you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

House Bill 52 sent to Health Care Financing

House Bill 52 has been sent to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. Here is a link to the committee page: http://www.malegislature.gov/Committees/Joint/J24/.

Please check the list of Representatives and Senators on the committee to see if any are from your district. If you are a constituent, please take 5 minutes to write an email to your legislators asking them to report the bill out favorably.

If you do not see your Rep. or Senator's name on the committee list, you may contact your Representative and Senator and ask them to contact the committee chairs (Senator Richard T. Moore and Representative Steven M. Walsh) to urge that the bill be reported out favorably soon.

This only takes a few minutes and it is very, very important for our legislators to keep hearing from us about the bill. We have made great progress so far with your hard work!

Here is a link to find your Rep. and Senator and their contact information: http://www.malegislature.gov/

Thanks!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

HOUSE BILL 52 IS THROUGH COMMITTEE!

We were very happy to learn this morning that the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities acted favorably on House Bill 52! We are so thankful for all of the families that took time to travel to the State House on May 17th to support this bill. Your effort paid off! As we understand it, the bill will now go to to another committee, most likely the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, for a cost analysis and then probably on to Ways and Means after that. We will be posting updates on the process as we learn it.

You may wish to let your Reps. and Senators know that the committee acted favorably and that you are still counting on their support of the bill- a simple email is fine. Here is a link to the contact information for your Representative and Senator: http://www.malegislature.gov/

Nice work everyone!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17th is Massachusetts Hearing Awareness Day!


May 17th is Massachusetts Hearing Loss Awareness Day

For Immediate Release: Monday, May 16th, 2011
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Hearing Aids for Children Coalition (MassHAFCC) announces that Governor Deval Patrick has proclaimed May 17, 2011 “Massachusetts Hearing Loss Awareness Day”.
MassHAFCC is a statewide network of families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and professionals working together to maximize a child’s lifetime potential through educational, medical, social and emotional support.
MassHAFCC is coordinating with Rep. Sean Garballey (D -Arlington/Medford) on House Bill 52 “An Act to Provide Access to Hearing Aids for Children,” which is scheduled that day for public hearing at the State House before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. House Bill 52 aims to provide insurance coverage for hearing aids for children 21 years old and under, up to $2,000 per aid every 36 months. To date, 18 states have enacted hearing aid insurance coverage mandates.
House Bill 52 would serve to significantly lessen the financial burden for the families of the approximately 200 children out of 80,000 live births annually in the Commonwealth who are born with some degree of permanent hearing loss requiring hearing aids.
MassHAFCC events on May 17th include:
9:30 a.m.: RALLY on the Massachusetts State House steps at 9:30am. Deaf/hard of hearing children, parents, families, professionals and supporters of House Bill 52 will be present.
10:00 a.m.: MassHAFCC children will meet with members of House and Senate at a special reception hosted by Rep. Garballey.
10:30 a.m.: Testimony before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities at 10:30 in Room A-1 for House Bill 52.
Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects in the U.S., occurring in ~3 of every 1,000 births. Research has shown that early identification of hearing loss and amplification with hearing aids in children prior to 6 months of age yields significantly better receptive and expressive language and vocabulary, personal-social skills and speech production. Children who do not receive early intervention cost schools an additional $420,000 and face overall lifetime costs of $1,000,000 in special education, lost wages and health complications.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 17th is Massachusetts Hearing Loss Awareness Day!!

Please join MassHAFCC at the State House on May 17th to commemorate "Massachusetts Hearing Loss Awareness Day!" We will kick off the day with a rally at 9:30 a.m. on the State House steps, then head indoors to the House Members Lounge for a "meet and greet" with legislators at 10:00 a.m., then over to Hearing Room A-1 where the Joint Committee on Families, Children and Persons with Disabilities will take testimony at a public hearing for House Bill 52, "An Act to Provide Access to Hearing Aids for Children." We hope that you can join us for this special day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Please Send In Your Testimony!

We encourage you to join us for the rally at the State House on May 17th at 9:30 a.m. and the hearing before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities at 10:30 a.m. in Room A-1! However, IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND THE HEARING, please take 5 minutes to write down your story of why you think this legislation should pass and how it would help your family/child, whether your story is one of hardship or success, and send it to lcadams3@gmail.com. We are collecting written testimony that we will bind and submit to the members of the commiittee at the hearing. We would like to have a big, thick binder of stories to submit to the legislators sitting on the committee! Letters may be addressed to:

Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Senate Chair
Representative Kay Khan, House Chair
Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities
State House, Room 146
Boston, MA 02133

Your testimony WILL make a difference and we appreciate your time and effort.

THANK YOU!

Tennessee Bill Passes House and Senate

On Thursday May 5th, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that mandates insurance coverage for hearing aids for children 18 and under, up  to $1,000 every 3 years. The bill has not yet been signed by the Governor. Here is the story: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/05/05/business-us-hearing-aids-mandate-tennessee_8451981.html

If signed, this would bring the total number of states who have passed hearing aid legislation to 19.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hearing Aid Opportunity for Children!

If you know a child in need of hearing aids in MA, this is a great opportunity! Please see message below for event and contact information.

From: Ziegberman, Jana [mailto:Jana.Ziegberman@bmc.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 3:21 PM
Subject: Pediatrics with Starkey and Red Sox

Hello all!

I was contacted by Barry Freeman, Justine Hammer, and Brady Forseth at Starkey regarding a great opportunity for our hearing loss children in the Boston area!  The Starkey Foundation is going to team up with the Boston Red Sox and provide hearing aids for children that do not have medical benefits or their parents/guardian are unable to provide them due to financial hardship.  These children will need a current hearing evaluation and earmold impressions taken prior to the event (end of May/early June).  If you have any children or families that fall into this area, please let me know or you can contact Justine Hammer or Brad Forseth to obtain more information (contact info is below). 

Please note that they will also need audiologists to volunteer to help fit the hearing aids that day!  Yes, the Yankees fan will be there but I promise to behave!

Thank you for your help with this ahead of time!  Please feel free to forward this email to anyone else you know.  Unfortunately I do not have every audiologist’s email in the Boston area!

Jana

Justine Hammer, Au.D.
1-800-769-2799 ext 2726
Justine_Hammer@starkey.com

Brady Forseth
612-910-4450
Brady_Forseth@starkey.com


Jana L. Ziegberman, Au.D.
Clinical Pediatric Audiologist
Newborn Hearing Screening Coordinator
Boston Medical Center
Ph: 617-414-4898
Fax: 617-414-4953
Pager: 6690
jana.ziegberman@bmc.org


Janet M. Farrell, Program Director
Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program
250 Washington Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA  02108
617-624-5959
fax:  617-994-9822

Thursday, April 7, 2011

HEARING DATE FOR BILL SCHEDULED!

The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities has scheduled a hearing for House Bill 52, "An Act to Provide Access to Hearing Aids for Children" for May 17th, at 10:30 a.m., in Room B-2 at the State House. Please consider joining us to testify in support! Each person gets 3 minutes before the Committee and we have requested that the Committee take us first that day because of the presence of children in the hearing room.

If you or someone you know cannot testify, but you would like to relate your "story," please e-mail your story to me and I will include it as part of a packet that I am submitting to the committee as written testimony.

Also, we are organizing a rally prior to the hearing in front of the State House, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Please spread the word and we hope to see you there!

Thank you, Lisa Adams
Massachusetts Hearing Aids for Children Coalition (MassHAFCC)

Yahoo Group: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/MassHAFCC/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=107850185906949

Link to text of bill: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H00052

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Write or Call your Legislators!

We have 71 co-sponsors for our bill. Now what? We need to keep enlisting support and your Representatives and Senators need to hear from YOU. An e-mail asking for your legislator to support House Bill 52, "An Act to Provide Access to Hearing Aids for Children" is all that it takes. Click on the "Legislature Home Page" link at the bottom of this page and then click on the red button that reads "Find my Legislator." The updated web page provides easy access to your legislators' contact information, including e-mail addresses. A sample e-mail to ask for your legislator's support is:

Dear Representative/Senator x: I am writing to ask for your support for House Bill 52, "An Act to Provide Access for Hearing Aids for Children." My husband and I have three children, two of whom were born with hearing loss and have worn hearing aids since they were infants. Deaf and hard of hearing children need early access to sound to learn to speak, but hearing aids are not covered under insurance policies in Massachusetts. Hearing aids cost about $5,000 a pair and need to be replaced every 3-5 years in children. The cost of ignoring access to hearing aids and early amplification in our children is enormous: children who are not aided early-on require significantly more services and support, which ends up costing our state more money in special education services, social services and medical costs. We ask you to support this legislation so that deaf and hard of hearing children in Massachusetts may be on par with their hearing peers. Thank you, [your name]

Cut and paste this message and send it, or write your own and send it. But please, send it! It truly makes a big difference.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Final Count- Co-sponsors of Hearing Aid Bill for Children

We have 71 co-sponsors for "An Act to Provide Access to Hearing Aids for Children." Of the 71, 11 are Senators. Nice work everyone! Your calls and emails made a BIG difference. We are looking forward to working with Rep. Sean Garballey and his co-sponsors to fast-track this bill through committee. We hope that 2011 will be the year that our legislature mandates insurance coverage for hearing aids for deaf and hard of hearing children in MA.

Final List of Co-Sponsors:

 
Sean Garballey
23rd Middlesex
Stephen M. Brewer
Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin
Michael Finn
6th Hampden
Rhonda Nyman
5th Plymouth
Patricia A. Haddad
5th Bristol
Martin J. Walsh
13th Suffolk
Thomas A. Golden, Jr.
16th Middlesex
Jennifer E. Benson
37th Middlesex
James J. Dwyer
30th Middlesex
Paul J. Donato
35th Middlesex
Nick Collins
4th Suffolk
Christopher Markey
9th Bristol
Richard T. Moore
Worcester and Norfolk
Carolyn C. Dykema
8th Middlesex
Lori A. Ehrlich
8th Essex
Donoghue Eileen
First Middlesex
Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr.
12th Hampden
Linda Dean Campbell
15th Essex
Bradford Hill
4th Essex
Kevin J. Murphy
18th Middlesex
David M. Torrisi
14th Essex
Michael O. Moore
Second Worcester
Joyce A. Spiliotis
12th Essex
Susan C. Fargo
Third Middlesex
John W. Scibak
2nd Hampshire
John J. Binienda
17th Worcester
William N. Brownsberger
24th Middlesex
Stephen R. Canessa
12th Bristol
Stephen L. DiNatale
3rd Worcester
Kimberly Ferguson
1st Worcester
Gloria L. Fox
7th Suffolk
John P. Fresolo
16th Worcester
Anne M. Gobi
5th Worcester
Sheila Harrington
1st Middlesex
Kate Hogan
3rd Middlesex
Randy Hunt
5th Barnstable
Thomas P. Kennedy
Second Plymouth and Bristol
Kay Khan
11th Middlesex
Jason M. Lewis
31st Middlesex
David Paul Linsky
5th Middlesex
Thomas M. McGee
Third Essex and Middlesex
Alice Hanlon Peisch
14th Norfolk
Elizabeth Poirier
14th Bristol
Denise Provost
27th Middlesex
George Ross
2nd Bristol
Todd M. Smola
1st Hampden
Thomas M. Stanley
9th Middlesex
Alice K. Wolf
25th Middlesex
James Arciero
2nd Middlesex
Geraldine Creedon
11th Plymouth
Paul McMurtry
11th Norfolk
Stephen Stat Smith
28th Middlesex
Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.
26th Middlesex
Matthew Beaton
11th Worcester
Sal N. DiDomenico
Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex
James B. Eldridge
Middlesex and Worcester
Ryan Fattman
18th Worcester
Ann-Margaret Ferrante
5th Essex
Louis L. Kafka
8th Norfolk
Theodore C. Speliotis
13th Essex
Sonia Chang-Diaz
Second Suffolk
Cynthia S. Creem
First Middlesex and Norfolk
John V. Fernandes
10th Worcester
Colleen M. Garry
36th Middlesex
Jonathan Hecht
29th Middlesex
Kevin G. Honan
17th Suffolk
John D. Keenan
7th Essex
George N. Peterson, Jr.
9th Worcester
Benjamin Swan
11th Hampden
Angelo D'Emilia
8th Plymouth
Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.
34th Middlesex

Thursday, February 3, 2011

You are making a difference-- thank you!

Your calls and e-mails to your Representatives and Senators are making a difference! The updated list is below. We were at 22 yesterday! Please encourage your friends and relatives to call their legislators and ask them to co-sponsor "An Act to Provide Access to Hearing Aids for Children," docket no. 00964. The call I made to my Rep. took 45 seconds. Help us reach our goal of 81!!

Updated list of co-sponsors:

Updated List:   




Name:
District/Address:
Sean Garballey
23rd Middlesex
Stephen M. Brewer
Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin
Jennifer E. Benson
37th Middlesex
James J. Dwyer
30th Middlesex
Michael Finn
6th Hampden
Richard T. Moore
Worcester and Norfolk
Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr.
12th Hampden
Paul J. Donato
35th Middlesex
Linda Dean Campbell
15th Essex
Lori A. Ehrlich
8th Essex
Bradford Hill
4th Essex
Kevin J. Murphy
18th Middlesex
David M. Torrisi
14th Essex
Michael O. Moore
Second Worcester
Joyce A. Spiliotis
12th Essex
Susan C. Fargo
Third Middlesex
John W. Scibak
2nd Hampshire
John J. Binienda
17th Worcester
William N. Brownsberger
24th Middlesex
Stephen R. Canessa
12th Bristol
Stephen L. DiNatale
3rd Worcester
Carolyn C. Dykema
8th Middlesex
Kimberly Ferguson
1st Worcester
Gloria L. Fox
7th Suffolk
John P. Fresolo
16th Worcester
Anne M. Gobi
5th Worcester
Sheila Harrington
1st Middlesex
Kate Hogan
3rd Middlesex
Randy Hunt
5th Barnstable
Thomas P. Kennedy
Second Plymouth and Bristol
Kay Khan
11th Middlesex
Jason M. Lewis
31st Middlesex
David Paul Linsky
5th Middlesex
Thomas M. McGee
Third Essex and Middlesex
Rhonda Nyman
5th Plymouth
Alice Hanlon Peisch
14th Norfolk
Elizabeth Poirier
14th Bristol
Denise Provost
27th Middlesex
George Ross
2nd Bristol
Todd M. Smola
1st Hampden
Thomas M. Stanley
9th Middlesex
Alice K. Wolf
25th Middlesex
James Arciero
2nd Middlesex
Geraldine Creedon
11th Plymouth
Paul McMurtry
11th Norfolk
Stephen Stat Smith
28th Middlesex
Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.
26th Middlesex


Ryan Fattman
Martin Walsh
Paul McMurtry