By: Rinki Goswami and Whitney Lyle
Tens of thousands of people across the United States are diagnosed with hearing loss (congenital, unilateral, or occupational). Many of these patients pay for insurance and are still denied the devices they need to improve their quality of life. Hearing loss in children leads to learning/cognitive/speech delay and in adults can lead to dementia and other chronic diseases. If patients are paying thousands of dollars a year in insurance it is unjust for those companies to deny access to the biggest quality of life and health improvement device available - this is where HR 5485 steps in.
Details on H.R. 5485 (Ally’s Act) - from the Acoustic Neuroma Association
Ally’s Act would provide the following for every state:
1. Coverage for a bone conduction hearing device or CI device.
2. Upgrade replacement of these hearing devices every 5 years.
3. Cover accessories including a softband headband, hard band and adhesives.
4. Cover repairs for these devices.
5. Cover (1) hearing assessment per year.
6. Cover (1) preoperative assessment per year.
7. Cover implantation surgery.
8. Cover post-operative medical appointments.
9. Cover audiological appointments for fittings, programming and activation.
10. Provide aural services related to the use of this device.
If you would like to support this bill, here’s what you can do.
Write to your local congressmen/women telling them why this bill is so important and asking them to co-sponsor this bill. You can write to both your local congress representative and the representatives who also sit on the House Committee for Energy and Commerce (https://energycommerce.house.gov/about-ec/membership) as this is where Ally's Act has been assigned. Please remember, your voice matters!
For more information, visit: https://earcommunity.org/about/allys-act-h-r-5485/
The Honorable [SENATOR OR REPRESENTATIVE’S FIRST NAME, LAST NAME]
U.S. Senate OR House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator OR Representative [LAST NAME]
I am a [PROFESSION/ROLE/TITLE] at [INSTITUTION NAME]. I am writing to urge your support for Ally’s Act. [Share personal experience on why this act is important to you]
Congenital hearing loss is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in children, affecting up to 3.5/1000 children in the USA - and this statistic does not even include children with progressive hearing loss who get diagnosed at a later age. At least 7.2% of American adults have unilateral hearing loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the US - this statistic includes occupational hearing loss.
Hearing loss has long term health effects. In children, it causes a delay in the development of speech and language, which often results in learning difficulties and reduced academic achievement. When left untreated, communication challenges can also lead to social isolation. In adults, hearing impairment can lead to significantly more depressive symptoms and smaller social networks when compared to those without hearing impairment. New studies in the last few years have also shown a relationship between hearing loss and dementia. The goal with all hearing assistive devices is to maintain a healthy input of sound to the brain. When this rich stimulation is taken away, we start to see neural changes that can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to hear and live in the world around them.
It is imperative that patients with hearing loss receive coverage for hearing assistive devices. Considering the causative power of hearing loss with other comorbidities and chronic diseases, denial of these devices can lead to long term negative effects in the health of adults, and a significantly worse quality of life and learning for children. The denial of these devices is unjust especially if the patients and their families are paying for private insurance. These devices may also require a short implantation procedure with a couple follow-up appointments prior to device activation. If any of these pieces are denied coverage, many patients have to forgo the one device that will significantly improve their quality of life. It is also essential for patients to receive repeat testing annually to ensure their device is the most appropriate therapy for their condition. We cannot allow for private insurance companies to continue to hold their patients hostage when it comes to medical devices that have a significant impact on quality of life
I appreciate your time and am happy to answer any further questions you may have on the issue. My contact information is [INSERT CONTACT INFO HERE]
Some Research Articles:
General tips for writing your Congressperson (source: American Psychological Association):
● Direct: state your subject clearly in the e-mail subject line and/or letter introduction
● Factual: personalize the issue and support your stance with facts
● Helpful: offer to provide additional information and provide your contact information
● Informative: identify yourself, your views, and the bill number(s) of relevant legislation
● Constructive: remain positive and offer recommendations without personal attacks or blame
● Appreciative: thank the policymaker for their attention
● Inquiring: ask for the policymaker’s viewpoint on the legislation
● Specific: provide specific facts, data, examples, and write in the first-person
● Concise: do not exceed one page or 500 words
More tips, sample e-mails, sample letters, and links to your state’s Congresspersons’ contact
information can be found at this page created by the American Psychological Association.