Senate approves bill to require insurance companies cover cost of youth hearing aids

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 12:46pm

Nashville Sen. Douglas Henry led the opposition Thursday to bipartisan state legislation forcing health insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids for children who need them.

Despite Henry’s arguments that the proposal will increase insurance premiums, the Senate voted 19-13 for the bill. It passed the House 82-12 last month. Lawmakers bucked a powerful lobby, the National Federation of Independent Business, which objected to the bill as a government mandate.

“This is a really bad bill to talk bad about,” said Henry, a Democrat. “To mandate it is another tiny straw in the bundle building up on the back of the camel. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someday it’s going to drive up the cost of health insurance, and that’s why I respectfully oppose this bill.”

Henry was the only Democrat voting against the bill.

Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said parents who can’t afford hearing aids for their children can go on Medicaid, which covers the cost.

“Nobody wants to look like they’re hurting little children or trying to keep little children from getting the care they need. Some people can’t afford it. For those people, we have TennCare,” Campfield said.

But Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, said, “Every once in a while, you’ve got to step in and mandate something. We’ve got to look at the benefit that this money brings and the benefit that that mandate brings. Voting for this bill is really the right thing to do. It just pricks my soul when I hear us talk about the cost when we fail to look at the benefits.”

The new coverage will pay up to $1,000 for a first hearing aid and then for new ones every three years up to age 18 if a physician certifies a child’s hearing has significantly worsened. They said the benefit will add no more than 2 cents to health insurance premiums. It goes into effect with policies at the start of 2012.

3 Comments on this post:

By: revo-lou on 5/5/11 at 2:23

WTF?!? The state Senate is going to MANDATE an insurance company to do something? That flies in the face of EVERY argument they make AGAINST the new health care law! How in the hell can these people be in charge of this state?!?

By: HokeyPokey on 5/6/11 at 5:18

Good ol' Doug Henry. TN Right to Life turned into his campaign headquarters during the last election, now we see it's exactly like them: Protection from conception to birth, then "you're on your own, kid!"

Keep wallowing folks, there's more to come.


By: budlight on 5/6/11 at 7:20

I don ot agree with this type of mandate for private companies. The gov-ment needs to turn up their hearing aid and listen to the people. The insurance companies are going to stop providing all of us with insurance if the gov-ment doesn't stop their attack.