Zorn, former Miss Michigan and advocates discuss bill to help children with hearing loss

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn and Miss Michigan 2014 KT Maviglia of Dundee were joined by hearing loss advocates to highlight new legislation to help ensure all Michigan children up to age 21 can get necessary hearing devices.

“It is estimated that 30 of every 1,000 school children struggle with hearing loss, which affects their education and lasts a lifetime,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This measure is about ensuring that all Michigan students have the opportunity to succeed. The results of early intervention are profound, while the cost of inaction is significant for our society and our children. I was proud to welcome these distinguished advocates to the Capitol to outline the importance of ensuring children with hearing loss can get a life-changing hearing device.”

Under Zorn’s legislation, Senate Bill 449, hearing aids would be required to be covered under a child’s health insurance. The coverage would give a child new hearing devices for both ears at least every three years until they turn age 21.

Maviglia was crowned Miss Michigan in 2014 with a platform focused on advocating for children with hearing loss and later founded the KT Maviglia Fund for Hearing. She was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at age nine and has two hearing aids.

“The cost of a hearing aid should never be a factor in a child’s education, and it is my hope that with this bill, no other children will have to go through the same struggle I did,” Maviglia said. “With each year that students cannot afford a hearing device, they fall farther and farther behind and have to work twice as hard to make up for their loss. I am pleased to work with Senator Zorn on this legislation to help Michigan students reach their dreams.”

As of January 2015, 20 states had some form of requirement regarding commercial health insurers providing hearing aids to children.

“Senator Zorn’s bill will improve access to care and make it easier and quicker for a child to receive a personal hearing aid,” said Angelique Boerst, University of Michigan pediatric audiologist.

“Getting hearing aids to children in a timely manner is vital to limiting the effects on their speech, language, auditory, social and emotional development,” said Leslie Parent, pediatric audiologist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “The impact can be great in just a matter of months, so timeliness is of the essence.”

Kerri Goff, Michigan Hands and Voices board member, spoke about her experience as a mother of two children with hearing loss and the impact getting a hearing aid had on her children’s lives.

Ann Liming of Hearing Loss Association of America said, “The ultimate goal is that we will have children in Michigan who will be able to be successful in school and in life.”


Editor’s note: Video comments by Zorn, Maviglia and Boerst will be available on Zorn’s website at www.SenatorDaleZorn.com. Click on “Video” under the Media Center tab.

A print-quality version of the above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting website. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.