AUGUSTA – After one Senate Republican flipped his vote, the Senate failed to secure the two-thirds, or 24, votes need to override Governor LePage’s veto of Democratic Senator Linda Valentino’s bill requiring insurance companies to cover hearing aids for young adults up to age 26. Maine law currently requires insurance companies to pay for hearing aids for children only up to the age of 18.
“Most of us take our ability to hear for granted on a daily basis,” said Senator Valentino of Saco. “This measure would have stopped insurance companies from denying care to the young people who need it. How can we expect these young adults to excel in college and the workforce without this necessity for their lives? It’s unfortunate some senators felt that was less important than playing politics.”
The measure was originally approved by the Senate in a 24-11 vote, with Senator Pat Flood of Winthrop, Senator Brian Langley of Ellsworth, Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton, and Senator Rodney Whittemore of Skowhegan supporting the bill. Today, Senator Whittemore flipped his vote and supported Governor LePage’s veto of the bill.
In Maine, approximately 180,000 people suffer from some degree of hearing loss. While hearing aids may be covered by insurance for some, many people with hearing loss must cover the cost out of pocket. Hearing aids cost anywhere from $1,200 to $6,000 depending on the model necessary for the individual.
“Due the cost and the lack of insurance coverage, a significant number of young adults do not have access to devices that would have a profoundly positive impact on the quality of their lives,” added Senator Valentino.
More than a quarter of people affected by hearing loss are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 39.
The bill, LD 523, “An Act To Require Health Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids for Adults,” is now dead.
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