On October 21, the Senate Finance Committee released an accompanying report to its version of health care insurance reform legislation, America's Healthy Future Act of 2009 (S. 1796), defining habilitative and hearing services, equipment and supplies for children under the age of 21 as components of an essential benefit package that must be provided by insurance companies under health care insurance reform. Specific coverage policies will be developed after a health care insurance reform proposal is signed into law and as it goes through the regulatory process. The Senate Finance Committee proposal is viewed as the base bill from which to develop a compromise; however, it must be combined with legislation passed earlier this year by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The HELP Committee proposal contains similar coverage requirements for rehabilitative and habilitative services.
AG Bell, independently and as part of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance, has been strongly advocating inclusion of language specifically addressing rehabilitative and habilitative services as an essential benefit in any final health care insurance reform legislation. Stay tuned to AG Bell Update for further developments.