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Study for Expanded Federal Employee Hearing Benefits Moves Forward

The U.S. Congress took a huge step forward in providing broader coverage of hearing services and devices for federal employees and their families under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHPB). Congressional leaders requested that a comprehensive study of hearing benefits and report back to Congress be conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for the basis of potential legislation.

In an exchange of letters, a bipartisan group of key congressional leaders that have jurisdiction over the FEHBP requested OPM to conduct a study of the hearing benefits available to federal workers and how those benefits could be improved. OPM Director Kay Cole James agreed to conduct the study and complete a report by the end of September, 2005. The joint congressional letter represents a compromise reached between the House and Senate to ensure that a study of hearing benefits under FEHBP would be completed in a timely and comprehensive manner. Such requests are usually the basis of legislative activity by Congress, so the OPM study is an important step in expanding hearing health benefits for federal employees.

ASHA wishes to thank the members of Congress and their staffs who pursued the OPM study on hearing benefits before adjourning this year, including: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Representative Tom Davis (R-VA), Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Representative Danny Davis (D-IL), Representative Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), and Henry Waxman (D-CA). ASHA members are encouraged to contact these federal lawmakers and thank them for the bipartisan effort to advance hearing health care among federal employees and their families.

ASHA lobbyists have been working on this issue for over a year and will continue to work with OPM on providing hearing benefit information and the key role audiologists play in hearing health care. ASHA will also continue its efforts to have bipartisan legislation introduced next year to expand hearing health benefits in FEHPB. This major step forward is a result of ASHA's advocacy on Capitol Hill.

The joint congressional letter and response from OPM can be found on ASHA's Web site:

Joint Congressional Letter

Response from OPM.

For more information, please contact Reed Franklin in ASHA's Capitol Hill office at 202-624-5951; toll free at 800-498-2071, ext. 4473; or via e-mail at rfranklin@asha.org.

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