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Legislation could help kids get hearing aids

Senator Dale Zorn Miss Michigan KT Maviglia

A Michigan lawmaker is teaming up with Miss Michigan to make it easier for children with hearing loss to get devices to help them hear.

State Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, and KT Maviglia of Dundee are joining forces on a bill that would require health insurers to cover the cost of hearing aids.

Under the bill, insurers would cover new devices at least once every three years for kids up to age 21.

Maviglia was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at the age of nine.

After she got her hearing aids, she said school became "a game of catch-up."

"I was hearing about 60% of classroom discussion," Maviglia said. "I had to learn everything I was missing in those years of education before I was diagnosed."

Maviglia's parents had insurance through their employers to help cover the cost, but it wasn't enough.

"[Insurance] only covered about $2,000 of my hearing aids, and they were over $5,000," she said. "That was a huge expense."

Sen. Zorn said early intervention is vital to helping children with hearing loss maximize their speech and language skills. 

"Hearing aids can be expensive, but the cost of inaction to our society, our schools and especially to our children is much more," Zorn said.

Zorn first introduced the bill in December, but there wasn't enough time left in session for legislators to consider it.

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