COLUMBUS — State Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) today announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 198, or “Madeline’s Law,” along with Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield). Introduced as HB 243 in the 133rd General Assembly, this legislation would expand health insurance coverage to include hearing aids for children up to the age of 21. If enacted, the bill would require coverage of up to $2,500 per hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear every 48 months.
“We know that hearing is an essential part of a child’s development and learning,” said Rep. Russo. “Without consistent, quality sound input to help children develop brain pathways for hearing, speech, and other cognitive functions, children may drastically fall behind, eventually impacting future education and job prospects. Many insurance companies in Ohio currently consider children’s hearing aids to be elective, cosmetic devices when the reality clearly demonstrates they are necessary medical devices. Until Ohio rectifies this situation and expands health insurance coverage to include children’s hearing aids, Ohio’s children will not be able to develop their full potential.”
Research demonstrates that children with hearing loss and late or no intervention cost the state more than $400,000 per child in special education costs by the time they graduate high school. Ohio requires hearing screening at birth, and parents often discover the exclusion of children’s hearing aid coverage by health insurance plans when early intervention begins. Currently, 24 other states have passed similar legislation requiring hearing aid coverage for children.