Advocacy in Action: A Win for Children in Virginia

June 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 5

AAO-HNS State Trackers

Calling all Academy members for participation in the AAO-HNS State Trackers program. The Advocacy Team provides the following resources to help guide you during your state’s legislative session.

  • AAO-HNS State Trackers List
  • State Legislative Tracker – Introductory Slideshow
  • State Tracker State-mENT newsletter
  • Academy State Advocacy Bill Tracking
    • Legislative Tracking by State
  • State Legislative Tracking Resources
    • 2020 State Legislative Session Dates
    • State Legislative Priorities
    • State “Mark-up” Styles
    • Glossary of legislative terms
    • Example of the state legislative process
    • Explanation of the crossover period

If you have any questions or problems, please contact the Academy State Advocacy Team at legstate@entnet.org.

Working over a holiday weekend in January, the AAO-HNS, the Virginia Society of Otolaryngology, and the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics coalesced to inform Commonwealth of Virginia legislators of their significant concerns surrounding SB 423, a bill to require health insurance coverage of hearing aids for minors. Noting that hearing loss is the number one birth defect in the United States and that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to a child’s development over a lifetime, it was stressed that a physician who specializes in the medical diagnosis and treatment of pediatric hearing problems was an essential but missing component of the bill. The three organizations cosigned a letter to the Virginia Senate sponsor and the Committee on Commerce and Labor urgently requesting an amendment to the bill that added otolaryngologists for medical clearance and, if appropriate, for the dispensing of hearing aids. The bill was successfully amended and passed the Senate. Next came the real battle. The House of Delegates developed and passed its own amendments reducing the proposal to a study bill, with which the Senate did not agree. The bill then went to conference and the Senate amendments that included otolaryngologists prevailed. The governor signed the bill into law on April 10, 2020.

Beginning January 1, 2021, most health insurers in the Commonwealth of Virginia will cover hearing aids for children 18 years of age or younger, one per impaired ear, every 24 months up to $1,500 per aid when recommended by an otolaryngologist. In addition to audiologists and hearing aid specialists, otolaryngologists can also dispense the appropriate services and equipment—a win for the children, their families, and their advocates.