Say What? The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Hearing Aids Affordable and Accessible Hearing Health Care: Responding to a Public Health Conce

Say What? The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Hearing Aids
Affordable and Accessible Hearing Health Care: Responding to a Public Health Concern
Mary Helen McNeal
About the Author:
Mary Helen McNeal is a Professor and the Director of the Elder Law Clinic at the Syracuse University College of Law. Parts of this article are adapted from a longer article originally published as “Say What? The Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Hearing Aids,” 53 Harv. J. on Legislation 621 (2016) available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2794177.
(The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal, Vol. 38, Issue 3.)

Editor’s Note: With the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) future uncertain under a Trump administration, this article, authored in late 2016, sits in ambiguous territory. That said, regardless of how the ACA fares, the insight into advocacy for those with hearing loss in need of assistance and the overview of recommendations for the future presented by this article are valuable. Part I of this article outlines legal arguments for those in need of an affordable mechanism to obtain hearing assistance, particularly in light of the ACA. Part II summarizes recent recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to expand access to, and the affordability of, hearing aids and other hearing health care.

I. Introduction
Age-related hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic medical condition impacting older adults, with the incidence increasing with age. And yet, there is very little insurance coverage to pay for the cost of hearing aids; in fact, Medicare statutorily excludes coverage for hearing aids. The dearth of insurance coverage is of particular concern given the mounting evidence of the relationship between age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, and other medical conditions, including increased falls and hospitalizations, depression, isolation, and diminished cognitive abilities. As the evidence mounts regarding the medical and social consequences of untreated hearing loss, hearing health professionals and advocates are exploring options for increased access to affordable hearing assistance.
Although past efforts to amend the Medicare statute to provide for hearing aid coverage have failed, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)1 provides a lens through which one can reexamine this issue. Part I of this article outlines legal arguments for those in need of an affordable mechanism to obtain hearing assistance, particularly in light of the ACA. Part II summarizes recent recommendations from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to expand access to, and the affordability of, hearing aids and other hearing health care.2

See more

One of the most common consequences of aging is hearing loss, representing the third most prevalent chronic medical condition among seniors. Empirical evidence
papers.ssrn.com

Author: Law Office of Maryann Williams, LLC

I have been an Indiana attorney for 26 years. Practicing primarily in the Owen County and surrounding counties in the area of family law, business, and civil practice. I am also a registered family mediator for the State of Indiana.

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