Assuring Financial Access to Hearing Aids forInfants and Young Children

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American Academy of Pediatrics

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Many young children with permanent hearing loss do not receive hearing aids and related professional services, in part because of public and private financing limitations. In 2006 the Children's Audiology Financing Workgroup was convened by the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management to evaluate and make recommendations about public and private financing of hearing aids and related professional services for 0- to 3-year-old children. The workgroup recommended 4 possible strategies for ensuring that all infants and young children with hearing loss have access to appropriate hearing aids and professional services: (1) clarify that the definition of assistive technology, which is a required service under Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), includes not only analog hearing aids but also digital hearing aids with appropriate features as needed by young children with hearing loss; (2) clarify for both state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs that digital hearing aids are almost always the medically necessary type of hearing aid required for infants and young children and should be covered under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program; (3) encourage the passage of private health insurance legislative mandates to require coverage of appropriate digital hearing aids and related professional services for infants and young children; and (4) establish hearing-aid loaner programs in every state. The costs of providing hearing aids to all 0- to 3-year old children in the United States are estimated here.