The Hearing Device Coverage Clarification Act: Support is crucial

by Amy Pajula, on March 9, 2024

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On February 6th, 2024, Minnesota representatives Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) and Angie Craig (D-MN) joined forces to introduce the bipartisan Hearing Device Coverage Clarification Act. This pivotal bill aims to redefine fully implanted active middle ear hearing devices as prosthetics, emphasizing their distinct status and highlighting their exclusion from current Medicare hearing aid coverage policies. 

Active implantable medical devices rely on external power sources, often powered by batteries. These innovative devices encompass a range of technologies, such as cardiac pacemakers, internal defibrillators, neurostimulators, and implanted infusion pumps, each designed to fulfill precise functions within the human body.

As many of you know, our fully implanted Esteem Active Middle Ear Implant (AMEI) is not covered by insurance.  When the FDA approved the Esteem, it was classified as an active middle ear implant and a prosthetic device. 

However, Medicare categorizes Esteem as a "hearing aid," and the Social Security Act of 1965 specifically excludes coverage for hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dental care, a policy that remains unchanged to this day.  

This recently proposed legislation has a specific focus - it aims to clearly define fully implanted active middle-ear hearing devices as prosthetics, ensuring they are not subject to Medicare's hearing aid exclusion. 

People who do not have hearing loss often assume that hearing aids are a universal solution that works for everyone.  Progress in this field has been hindered by companies hesitating to invest in cutting-edge innovations due to the complexities of obtaining insurance coverage. 

There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss and it's the third most common chronic physical condition that typically progresses as we age and begin to face a myriad of health challenges. From diminished eyesight to decreased dexterity and mobility, the things that once came effortlessly can change. How can we maintain our independence and address our hearing needs effectively?  Why have individuals with hearing loss not experienced the same level of innovation as those with other conditions benefiting from active implants?

Innovation has stalled because of this exclusion and it's affecting the quality of life for so many.

This bill requires significant support to move through the legislative system and become law.  We encourage you to get involved!

Take action now!

H.R. 7254 (Website)-1

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The Sounding Board is designed to help patients, friends and family,  navigate the full spectrum of hearing loss. By providing insight on everything from general hearing loss topics to the specific experiences of individuals regaining hearing health in innovative ways.

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