Every child born in the U.S. is screened shortly after birth for the possibility of hearing loss. The earliest months and years of life offer a limited window of time during which the brain can wire for auditory input to avoid hearing loss. From birth to age three, babies and children can develop those pathways and learn to listen because of the brain’s remarkable plasticity in those earliest stages of development.
HB 4104 would stop insurance companies from treating hearing aids as cosmetic or bilateral cochlear implants as experimental. The legislation would benefit Oregon children with hearing loss and their families by:
- Ongoing evaluations, fittings & equipment: Expanding the scope of what private insurers are required to cover for hearing services and technology.
- Help navigating complex insurance system: Requiring insurance companies to assign a case manager to each family when their child is diagnosed with permanent hearing loss to help them navigate the insurance system.
- Expand access to care with more doctors: To alleviate a shortage of pediatric audiologists, the bill would also require companies to contract with a specific number of pediatric audiologists to ensure kids have quick access to services.
This week, HB 4104 passed the House unanimously. It will now move to the Senate.
Eleven-year old Gavin was diagnosed with hearing loss as a newborn. Today, he’s helping to advocate for HB 4104 along with his mom. You can read Gavin’s story in this Q&A.
Week in Review
Thursday, February 15 was the deadline for legislative committees to complete their work on bills that were introduced in their chamber. Here are bills of importance to the disability rights community that are moving forward:
- SB 1526A: Prohibits the termination of a person’s parental rights for the sole reason that the person has a disability. This bipartisan bill will make sure that parents who experience intellectual or developmental disabilities are equal in the eyes of the law.
- It passed the Senate and moves on to the House.
- We submitted testimony in support of the bill on February 20.
- HB 4041: Would expand state government job opportunities to workers with disabilities by creating a Task Force on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.
- It passed out of committee and was sent to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration of minimal costs associated with stipends for legislators who participate on the committee and staffing costs.
- SB 1533: Clarifies a vague law restricting where and how equine therapy centers offer services.
- Equine therapy centers improve the quality of life of Oregonians of all ages with physical, mental, or emotional needs. There are nearly 20 centers across the state. Veterans who experience PTSD, children experiencing learning or behavioral issues, and Oregonians with physical disabilities have all been helped by these therapeutic services.
- On February 19, the Senate unanimously passed SB 1533. It now moves to the House for further consideration.
- HB 4067A: Designates children with developmental delays in the third grade or lower as eligible for special education services. It passed out of committee for a vote on the House floor.
- SB 1522: Requires school districts to allow students who have received a modified diploma to receive additional educational and transition services. Also makes modified diploma recipients in Youth Corrections Educational Program eligible for transition services and allows modified diploma recipients to be eligible for the Expanded Options Program. It moved out of committee for a vote on the Senate floor.
- HB 4150: Requires schools to share information about sexual harassment investigations and findings within the bounds of confidentiality laws. It passed out of committee for a vote on the House floor.
- HB 4135: Makes changes to Oregon’s advance directive law to make it easier to use and sets up a committee to recommend additional changes. It was moved out of committee for a vote on the House floor.
- We submitted testimony in support of the bill on February 21.
- HJR 203A: Proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution establishing an obligation of the state to ensure every resident of state has access to effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care. It passed the House and moves on to the Senate.
- SB 1549: Extends the period of OHP coverage for people admitted to the state hospital. It moved out of committee to the Senate floor.
- SB 1532A: Permits four-wheeled motor assisted scooters to be treated the same as motorized wheelchairs for the purpose of motor vehicle laws. It passed the Senate and moves on to the House.
Personal Support/Home Care Workers
- SB 1534: Requires the Department of Human Services to establish minimum training standards for in-home care workers. Most Oregonians want to stay in their homes for as long as they can, if home is safe and comfortable. If the person experiences limitations in functioning, this may require a well-trained in-home care worker. These workers need to have the necessary skills to provide assistance with daily activities and must also understand that the person receiving the services gets to direct their care and has fundamental rights of safety and privacy.
- The Senate passed the bill on February 19.
- We submitted testimony in support of the bill.
- You can read the Senate Majority Leader’s press release here.
- SB 1540A: Modifies abuse reporting and investigation standards for people with “severe and persistent mental illness” and residents of the state hospital. It passed the Senate and moves on to the House.
- We submitted testimony in support of the legislation on February 20.
Mental Health Conditions
- SB 1543: Sets forth how a person under PSRB jurisdiction may be returned to custody if the person violates a term of their conditional release.
- It moved out of committee to the Senate floor.