August 05, 2021

Congressman Neguse Requests Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on Ally’s Act

Washington, DC—This week, Congressman Joe Neguse sent a letter to the Energy and Commerce Committee requesting a hearing on H.R. 477, Ally’s Act, a bill introduced by Neguse to increase access to specialized hearing devices. The bipartisan legislation is named for its inspiration—a young girl from Broomfield, Colorado, whose necessary osseointegrated device (OID) is not covered by her insurance company. The letter urges Committee Chair Frank Pallone to consider the bill, an important step towards it becoming law.

“Despite being born with microtia and atresia—born without a right ear and?a missing ear canal—and therefore requiring the use of a bone anchored hearing aid (“BAHA”), [Ally’s] private insurance company denied coverage of this device, as? insurance companies have ?consistently done,” wrote Congressman Joe Neguse. “OIDs are necessary to provide life-changing access to hearing to individuals who cannot be helped with traditional forms of hearing aids, yet these devices can cost thousands of dollars without consistent coverage by insurance companies.? H.R. 477 would require private insurance companies to cover? OIDs ?and cochlear implants,?their accompaniments, medical visits, and surgeries that allow them to function.”

Ally, a constituent in Colorado’s 2nd District, wrote to Congressman Neguse in 2019 calling for action to make BAHAs and OIDs more accessible for kids and families like hers. Congressman Neguse has since been a champion of this legislation, introducing it during his first term and reintroducing it in January of this yearAlly’s Act enjoys bipartisan, bicameral support, including that of 27 House cosponsors and Senators Warren and Capito. It is also endorsed by over 40 relevant advocacy organizations.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans experience deafness as a result of either congenital anomalies or long-term hearing loss, such that traditional hearing aids are simply inadequate. OIDs have the potential to provide critical access to hearing for those individuals, but access remains limited by prohibitive costs. This legislation would mandate increased coverage of these devices, thereby increasing their affordability and accessibility.

Read the full text of the letter HERE and below:

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August 4, 2021 

The Honorable Frank Pallone 

Chairman, Energy and Commerce 

Committee 

2125 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C. 20515 

The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rogers 

Ranking Member, Energy and Commerce Committee 

2322 Rayburn House Office Building 

Washington, D.C. 20515 

 

Dear Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rogers:

I write to request a hearing for a bipartisan bill which is currently before your committee: H.R. 477, Ally’s Act.

Ally, a young girl from Broomfield, Colorado, wrote to the Congress in 2019 to alert us to issues she was facing getting her insurance company to cover her hearing device. Despite being born with microtia and atresia—born without a right ear and a missing ear canal—and therefore requiring the use of a bone anchored hearing aid (“BAHA”), her private insurance company denied coverage of this device, as insurance companies have consistently done.

A BAHA is one form of an osseointegrated device (“OID”), that can be used to treat forms of hearing loss like Ally’s that cannot be helped with a traditional hearing aid. These auditory implant devices also include cochlear implants, and are medically necessary both for children and adults to restore their hearing.

Many individuals throughout the U.S. are born with hearing loss due to congenital anomalies known as aural atresia, underdeveloped or absent ear canals, and/or microtia, the absence of an ear. OIDs help different forms of hearing loss than a traditional hearing aid, and for people like Ally, they are often the only devices that can restore hearing.

OIDs are necessary to provide life-changing access to hearing to individuals who cannot be helped with traditional forms of hearing aids, yet these devices can cost thousands of dollars without consistent coverage by insurance companies.

H.R. 477 would require private insurance companies to cover OIDs and cochlear implants, their accompaniments, medical visits, and surgeries that allow them to function. The bill has

over 40 endorsements, including the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, American Academy of Audiology, and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Ally’s Act also has 27 bipartisan cosponsors, and companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Capito and Senator Warren.

We must increase coverage of these critical hearing devices, to ensure that children like Ally and many more adults around the country are able to access and use these devices.

Thank you for your leadership, and I look forward to working with you to expand access to these critical hearing devices.

Sincerely,

______________________ 

Joe Neguse 

Member of Congress 

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