- Report Published -
|Mandated Coverage for Hearing Examinations, Hearing Aids, and Related Services|
|Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits|
During the 2000 Session of the General Assembly, the House Committee on Corporations, Insurance and Banking and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor referred House Bill 554 and Senate Bill 272 to the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits (Advisory Commission). The patron of House Bill 554 is Delegate Terry G. Kilgore and the patron of Senate Bill 272 is Senator R. Edward Houck.
The Advisory Commission held a hearing on August 30, 2000, in Richmond, to receive public comments on House Bill 554 and Senate Bill 272. In addition to patron Senator Houck, eighteen speakers addressed the proposals. Representatives from the Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NVRC), Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH), Alexander Graham 8e'li Society, two audiologists, two outreach specialists and one outreach coordinator for the deaf and hard of hearing, and six concerned citizens spoke in favor of the bills. Representatives from the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) and the Virginia Association of Health Plans (VAHP) spoke in opposition to the bills. A representative of the Advisory Board of the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) also provided comments on the bills.
At the public hearing during the October 4, 2000 meeting, representatives of the Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV) also spoke in favor of the bills.
In addition, written comments in support of the bills were provided by SHHH, the SHAV, NVRC, Northern Virginia Cued Speech Association (NVCSA), Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, The Disability Resource Center of the Rappahannock Area, Inc., and nine concerned citizens. The Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA), VAHP, VMA, and Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield (Trigon) submitted comments in opposition to the bills. The Advisory Board of the VDDHH also provided information on the bills.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION
House Bill 554 and Senate Bill 272 amend § 38.2-4319 and add § 38.2-3418.12 to the Code of Virginia to require each insurer proposing to issue individual or group accident and sickness insurance policies providing hospital, medical and surgical, or major medical coverage on an expense-incurred basis; each corporation providing individual or group subscription contracts; and each health maintenance organization providing a health care plan for health care services to provide coverage for hearing examinations, hearing aids, and related services. The bills require that coverage shall include one such examination and two hearing aids every 36 months.
The bills state that no insurer, corporation, or health maintenance organization shall impose upon any person receiving benefits pursuant to this section any copayment, fee, or condition that is not equally imposed upon all individuals in the same benefit category.
The bills define "hearing aid" as any wearable instrument or device which is designed or offered to aid or compensate for impaired human hearing and any parts, attachments, or accessories, including earmolds, but excluding batteries and cords. The bills state that "related services" include earmolds, initial batteries, and other necessary equipment, maintenance, and adaptation training.
The bills also require that coverage shall be available under this section only for services and equipment provided by a professional licensed to provide such services or equipment under Chapter 15 (§ 54.1-1500 et seq.), Chapter 26 (§ 54.1-2600 et seq.) or Chapter 29 (§ 54.1·2900 et seq.) of Title 54.1.