In recent days, AG Bell has appealed to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), to ensure that language specifying hearing, speech and language habilitative and rehabilitative services, as well as pediatric hearing services, be included in any final health care reform legislation to emerge from the Senate. AG Bell President John R. "Jay" Wyant asked the Senators to support inclusion of language similar to that in a House of Representatives version of health care reform legislation, H.R. 3200 Sec. 122, which would mandate coverage for habilitative and rehabilitative services for all individuals with hearing loss, as well as "well baby and well child care and oral health, vision and hearing services, equipment and supplies at least for children under 21 years of age," as basic or "essential" benefits.
"This week, with the passage of the Senate Finance Committee version of health care reform legislation, the Senate has narrowed its reform efforts down to two bills," said AG Bell Director of Communications and Public Affairs Catherine Murphy. "Now is the time to turn up the heat and urge Senators to include hearing loss-specific language in health care reform."