Educators hope access to hearing aids improves with new legislation

Changes to legislation will make it easier for deaf children with Medicaid to get access to hearing aids and cochlear implants- this is after changes to the law in 2014 – which made the process more difficult.

However, in Victoria, neither of the two audiologists in provides equipment – so parents still need to go out of town for those resources.

I spoke with Tonya Taylor, the Deaf Education Coordinator for 39 districts in our region about the issue.

“Well back in 2014 – it was harder for our students’ parents to take them to the audiologist here in town just to get hearing aids, the equipment, any kind of hearing device equipment, and so it forces them to go out of town just to get hearing aids or cochlear implants,” Taylor said.

House Bill 706, authored by Texas District 123 Rep. Diego Bernal – creates a way for the government to reimburse school districts for those services for students on Medicaid.

Taylor says she hopes the change will encourage local audiologists to provide hearing aid equipment.

“With these new changes, I’m hoping that our local audiologists will then accept their Medicaid,” Taylor said.

And to overcome the distance – Taylor says schools organize field trips to the city so students can get the services and maintenance they need for their hearing aid devices or implants. In Victoria – there are no audiologist or surgeons that provide cochlear implants.

“The classroom here in Victoria will set up a little field trip to go to an audiologist as well to get everything checked out too.”

Cochlear implant surgery costs an average of $10,000 says Taylor – and hearing aids range from $2,500 to $3,500. So any access to medical assistance can make a huge impact on a household.