CAPITOL REPORT: REPRESENTATIVE PATRICIA PIKE
JEFERSON CITY, MO: Low-income Missourians with impaired hearing now have greater access to hearing aids under a new program created by legislation passed during the 2019 legislative session. Lawmakers passed the bill with bipartisan support to create a hearing aid distribution program administered by the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The program began accepting applications on August 28. State data indicates approximately 600,000 Missourians are deaf or hard of hearing. Supporters of the new program says there are more than 88,000 Missourians who could benefit from the new program. Hearing aid technology can significantly improve the quality of life for those with hearing loss, but many insurance providers consider hearing aids an elective procedure. Because of this, and the fact that hearing aids can cost in excess of $4,000, many Missourians may go without hearing aids.
The new program is meant to remedy this problem by providing financial assistance to deaf or hard-of-hearing Missourians who earn less than the federal poverty level. The program requires the assessment for the distribution of hearing aids to be performed by licensed audiologists or hearing instrument specialists or licensed physicians. Those who wish to apply also must provide a quote for their hearing aids and must verify their total annual income.
As the program began, the executive director of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, stated, “The commission hopes to positively impact the lives of those who need hearing aids so that they can be more engaged citizens and involved to a greater degree in their communities.”
An application for hearing aid assistance can be found online at https://mcdhh.mo.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/08/HADP-Application-0819.pdf. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can call 573-526-5205 or email Kristin.Funk@mcdhh.mo.gov.