Close up of older persons hearing aid. Contributed photo

Lawmakers should restore Medicaid coverage of hearing aids | Letter

Thank you for covering the Oct. 10 candidates forum at the North Bellevue Community Center. Your article did an excellent job of covering issues that arise as people age and also included some key statements of the candidates.

Unfortunately, the article did not mention the need to restore Medicaid hearing aid coverage for adults. Whereas, children’s hearing aids are covered under Medicaid, Washington state ceased to cover adult hearing aids effective Jan. 1 2011 due to the recession. During the 2016 legislative session, 15 organizations unsuccessfully backed restoration of Medicaid coverage of adult hearing aids. At the recent legislative forum all of the candidates (13) stood up to show support for Medicaid coverage of hearing aids.

Nearly 50 percent of persons 75 and older have a disabling hearing loss. Eighty percent of persons 85 and older have hearing loss. If one cannot hear and understand, it is difficult to converse, follow instructions and obtain the information needed to make important decisions. Untreated hearing loss has been associated with social isolation and depression. Individuals with hearing loss have an increased risk of dementia, an increased risk of cognitive decline and more rapid brain volume loss. Hearing aids improve understanding, communication and quality of life. Unfortunately, due to cost many persons who need hearing aids, particularly those on Medicaid, cannot afford them.

Our state legislature should restore Medicaid coverage of adult hearing aids. For additional information, contact the Hearing Loss Association of Washington.

Diana Thompson


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