Jill Bujnevicie, an ER physician assistant from Normandy Park, is advocating for the passage of a bill that would require insurance coverage for hearing aids for all Washington residents, including children and adults.

Bujnevicie has worked tirelessly for the last three years after finding out that her now 7-year-old boy has hearing loss and needed hearing aids – yet there was zero coverage from private insurance.

“We finally have a hearing in the healthcare committee on Wednesday (Feb. 2, 2022) to move HB 1854 sponsored by Rep. Wicks forward to provide hearing aid insurance coverage for all,” Bujnevicie sad.

Bujnevicie is asking for people to click on the link below, then select healthcare committee and the meeting on Feb. 2 at 8 a.m. and click in favor of by selecting “pro”:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/csi/Testifier/Add?chamber=House&mId=29695&aId=145285&caId=19199&tId=4

“As you know, untreated hearing loss and children results in significant costs for the state and leaves children falling behind their peers,” she added. “Also hearing loss in the elderly is a leading cause of dementia. This is such an invisible medical condition it has gone unnoticed for too long and it is time to correct this wrong. Thank you for your help!”

Normandy Park resident advocating for bill that would require insurance coverage for hearing aids 1

Here’s the link to provide written testimony on the bill:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/csi/Testifier/Add?chamber=House&mId=29695&aId=145285&caId=19199&tId=4

Here’s the link to sign in “pro”:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/csi/Testifier/Add?chamber=House&mId=29695&aId=145285&caId=19199&tId=3

“It would be great to have people provide written testimony. But signing in pro is good, too,” she added.

Read/download SB 1854 here.

TESTIMONY
Below is a transcript of Bujnevicie’s testimony to the committee:

“Madam Chair and members of the committee,

“I’m Jill Bujnevicie, an ER physician assistant from Normandy Park, WA and mom of 2 boys. My youngest, Hugo, here with me has hearing loss and requires hearing aids.

“Hugo was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss at age 3 after some language delays. We found out that private insurances do not cover hearing aids, nor does it apply to the deductible. It is simply ignored. As a medical provider, this did not make sense. I know that glasses for children are universally covered under all medical plans, why should it be any different for hearing aids when they are so important for child development.

“Hugo went from 19th percentile for speech to 80th in 6 months after getting his hearing aids without needing any services other than hearing aids. It was like a light went on inside him and even to this day, when he doesn’t have his hearing aids on…it is like the light is off. His hearing aids are 100% necessary for his success.

“Luckily, my family has the ability to pay for his $5000 hearing aids that he needs replaced about every 3 years. He needs new silicone molds made at least twice for an additional $250 a year to ensure a tight fit as his ears are growing. He does not qualify for any of the discounts offered by my Regence insurance for hearing aids since the clinics they suggest you go to don’t treat children. Children have unique needs and cannot go to just any clinic or costco. It is also 100% necessary that his teacher uses a microphone that connects to his hearing aids during class to overcome background noise and reduce listening fatigue. This is out of pocket and is an additional $4k. Most parents of children with hearing aids do not have the resources to provide this for their children.

“I know of a child who had to go with only one hearing aid because of cost, another child had to use a hunting amplification device because they didn’t have access to a real one, another mom had to decide if she was going to pay her mortgage bill or get her child hearing aids. Many children have outdated suboptimal devices because their parents can’t afford new ones.

“We know now that providing this kind of coverage has minimal financial implications for the state as well as insurance companies and ultimately provides a cost savings.

“As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Children who do not receive early intervention for hearing loss cost the state up to $420,000 in special education costs and up to a million in lifetime costs.

“Hearing loss is an invisible medical condition that has preventable expensive outcomes if not treated properly. It is time we start acknowledging our deaf and hard of hearing community and give them an equitable opportunity to be successful alongside their peers.

“Thank you for hearing this bill and thank you Rep Wicks for your sponsorship.”