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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

News: October 2003

Medicaid changes in Hearing Aid Coverage

As of October 1, 2003, Hearing Aids are no longer a benefit for people over 21 years of age covered by Michigan's Medicaid program. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health Bulletin issued September 1, these changes are needed in order to maintain the Medicaid program spending within the approved FY 2003–04 funding levels for the Department. The Federal government considers hearing aids, along with eyeglasses and prosthesis, an optional service, and does not require state programs to include this coverage.

According to information in the Michigan Brief Edition 07, approximately 696,000 adults received Medicaid benefits in 2002. Based on national estimates that 10% of the population has a hearing loss, approximately 69,600 or are potentially impacted by this policy change. Because 27% of Michigan’s total 1.2 million Medicaid recipients are either elderly or disabled adults, the number of recipients needing hearing aids may actually be much higher. Statistics on the amount Medicaid spends on hearing services were not immediately available.

To read the Medicaid Brief Click Here.

For questions about Medicaid, send email to: geigerter@michigan.gov

If you wish to express concerns, write to:

Paul Reinhardt
Dept. of Community Health
Sixth Floor, Lewis Cass Building
320 South Walnut Street
Lansing, Michigan 48913
517–373–3573 TTY
517–373–3500 Voice

Coalition Seeks to Improve Access to Hearing Aids and More

Present Medicaid and Medicare coverage for hearing aids is extremely limited. Coverage for other assistive hearing devices does not exist. A new coalition has been formed to “raise awareness and build support for policies that will enhance access to assistive devices, technologies and related services for people with disabilities and chronic conditions.”

The ITEM Coalition (Independence through Enhancement of Medicare/Medicaid), is consumer–led and has a growing membership of national organizations. Members include Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, the American Academy of Audiology, and the Alexander Graham Bell Society among many others. Although hearing assistive technology is not the only focus of the Coalition, the needs of people who are deaf and hard of hearing are sure to be included with strong representation from these organizations.

See the ITEM Coalition web site to learn more. www.itemcoalition.org.

info@michdhh.org

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