Resolution by Hanbidge, Hohenstein urges U.S. Congress to act on legislation to cover hearing aid costs

HARRISBURG, April 15 – State Reps. Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery, and Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, applauded this week’s unanimous adoption of their resolution urging the United States Congress to take action on legislation that would expand Medicare coverage to include hearing aids.

Hanbidge was the primary sponsor and Hohenstein a chief co-sponsor of H.R. 628, which was adopted by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by a 202-0 vote Tuesday. The resolution also urges the U.S. Congress to approve the Protecting Our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act.

“With hearing aids ranging in cost from $1,000 to $4,000, it is crucial that action is taken on behalf of all who suffer from hearing loss by mitigating the exorbitant cost of hearing aids,” Hanbidge said. “That is especially true for older Pennsylvanians living on a fixed income. This resolution hopefully compels Congress to take the appropriate action of expanding Medicare coverage to include hearing aids.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.1 million Pennsylvanians – 8.6% of the state’s population – live with hearing loss. Approximately 15% of American adults report trouble hearing. Yet, among adults 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than 30% have ever used them.

In Pennsylvania, hearing aids are only required to be covered for Medicaid recipients under age 21, while all other populations in need of hearing assistance are forced to pay for hearing aids out of pocket, with the average cost being $2,300.

Hohenstein was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss at an early age.

“My first hearing aid was a monstrosity, a machine strapped to my chest,” Hohenstein said. “That was a 5-year-old’s worst nightmare. I was an active child and broke a lot of hearing aids. I didn’t know it at the time, but my family received help to pay for them each time I needed a new one.

“So, my support for this resolution is my way of recognizing the generosity of those who helped me. Along with Representative Hanbidge, I will continue to work for greater access to hearing aids so that people with hearing loss can have access to the opportunities with which I have been blessed.”

Hanbidge last year also introduced H.B. 2105, a bill that would require health insurance policies in Pennsylvania to provide coverage for hearing aids. That bill was referred to the Insurance Committee in December, where it remains.