January 27, 2021

Congressman Joe Neguse Reintroduces "Ally's Act" His Bipartisan Bill Inspired By 11-Year-Old Broomfield Constituent, to Increase Access to Specialized Hearing

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, announced the reintroduction of “Ally’s Act,” his bicameral, bipartisan legislation to require private insurance companies to cover osseointegrated hearing devices (“OIDs”), including bone anchored hearing aids (“BAHA”) and cochlear implants. The bill was inspired by Ally, an 11-year-old from Broomfield, Colorado, who was born without a right ear or hearing canal and therefore requires the use of a BAHA. After Ally’s insurance company denied coverage of her hearing device, her mother Melissa formed the organization Ear Community to help advocate for insurance coverage of these devices to ensure no person is left unable to hear because of private insurance companies’ refusal to provide coverage. 

When Ally wrote a letter to Congressman Joe Neguse explaining her situation, he got right to work introducing a bill to fix the issue, naming it “Ally’s Act” in her honor. 

“For Ally and so many others, specialized hearing devices are critical for communicating. For insurance companies to deny coverage for these essential devices goes against common-sense. Cochlear implants and bone anchored hearing aids have helped countless individuals to communicate, and to thrive in their communities at school, work and in their social lives,” said Congressman Neguse. “I’m incredibly grateful for Ally’s initiative and courage to bring this issue to my office so we could get to work on a legislative fix to address it.”

“In my own experience with Ally, and through my work with Ear Community, I encounter the struggle to convince private insurance that these devices are necessary nearly every day,” said Melissa Tumblin, Executive Director and Founder of Ear Community. “Hearing device insurance coverage needs to be consistent across the U.S. and I look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Neguse to ensure that it becomes so.”

Ally’s Act is co-led by Congressmen David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA), the co-chairs of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, and holds bicameral support from Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Shelley Capito in the Senate.  

“As the only Member of Congress with a cochlear implant, I know from firsthand experience the difference in the quality of life these devices can provide,” said Congressman David McKinley. “Ally’s Act will help thousands of Americans with severe hearing loss gain access to life-changing treatment.”

“Ensuring that everyone can access the health care technology they need to fully hear and communicate is critical to our work to expand access to health care, said Congressman Mike Thompson. “That’s why I am proud to be an original coauthor of this bill to require insurers to cover hearing devices for children and adults with congenital hearing defects. These devices are crucial to helping people be full participants in their daily lives and I’m glad we have a solution to help ensure folks can afford them.”

“Despite the critical and life-changing support these specialized hearing devices provide, many adults and children throughout the United States cannot obtain them because they are too expensive,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “This is why I'm glad to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which would increase device access and ensure that no individual with hearing loss is left behind.”

“For people who suffer from hearing loss, devices and implants like OIDs and BAHAs are life-changing. Our senses are something we so often take for granted, and ensuring that insurance companies cover these hearing aids provides major relief and comfort to those born with hearing loss and their families. I’m proud to team up with Senator Warren to re-introduce Ally’s Act, and I look forward to continuing to work to establish better access to these critical hearing devices,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

Many throughout the United States are born with hearing loss due to congenital anomalies, including aural atresia (underdeveloped or absent ear canals) and/or microtia (physically missing outer ears). OIDs, including BAHA’s and Cochlear implants, help different forms of hearing loss than traditional hearing aids and are often the only hearing device that can restore hearing for these individuals.

“American Cochlear Implant Alliance enthusiastically supports Ally’s Act, legislation intended to ensure that Americans have access to hearing implants including cochlear and osseointegrated implants,” said Donna L. Sorkin, Executive Director, American Cochlear Implant Alliance. “Representative Neguse has demonstrated leadership and understanding of the extraordinary value of appropriate hearing healthcare for people of all ages, allowing those who need them to hear to pursue education, participate in the workplace, and enjoy a high quality of life.”

“The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association applauds Representative Neguse for reintroducing Ally’s Act, along with Representatives McKinley and Thompson, co-chairs of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus,” said A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, and ASHA 2021 President. “Being able to effectively communicate is a basic human right, and this proposal will help ensure that individuals born with congenital hearing loss—and those who require implantable hearing devices—have access to needed care and hearing technology by ensuring appropriate coverage by private insurers.”

This legislation is supported by the following organizations and individuals dedicated to ensuring private insurance coverage of these specialized hearing devices: This bill is endorsed by Ear Community; the American Cochlear Implant Alliance; the American Academy of Audiology; the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Waiting to Hear; HearStrong; Lemon Aids 4 Hearing; Songs for Sound, Inc; American Tinnitus Association; the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; City and County of Broomfield, Colorado; Hands & Voices; Harvard Medical School - Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Otolaryngology; Let Them Hear Foundation; Morgan’s Magical Ears; Educational Audiology Association; Dallas Ear Institute; the Acoustic Neuroma Association; Hearing Health Foundation; Colorado Academy of Audiology; the California Ear Institute; Aid the Silent; HearAid Foundation; New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai; Microtia and Atresia at Stanford Hospital and Clinics/Otolaryngology; the American Pediatric Surgical Association; American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology; Michigan Medicine - Department of Otolaryngology; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center/Otolaryngology; the Otolaryngology Department at Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Chad Ruffin, MD; Proliance Surgeons; Prader-Willi Syndrome Association/USA Advocacy Committee; Weill Cornell Medical College - Departments of Otolaryngology and Audiology; Hearing Industries Association; Hearing Loss Association of America; Plastic Surgery Department at Johns Hopkins; Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses; the University of Southern California Caruso Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery; University of California San Francisco Medical School/Department of Otolaryngology and Cochlear Implant Center; and Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering and Auditory Research Department. 

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