by: Richard Elliot Updated:
ATLANTA - An advocacy group for the hearing impaired is applauding Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's decision to include in his budget proposal insurance coverage for state employees whose children need hearing aids.
"We are absolutely thrilled to hear that this issue is important to Governor Deal," said Kelly Jenkins, co-founder of Let Georgia Hear. "I think it really bodes well for the future, for children in the state who are hard of hearing."
Jenkins said the average hearing aid costs parents around $6,000 and need to be updated every three to five years. By the time a child reaches the age of 21, she estimates Georgia families pay $40,000 for hearing aids.
The governor's proposal will only cover state employees who get state health benefits, but Jenkins said that will cover about 650,000 people statewide.
"I think it's a huge step forward," said Jenkins. "This is basically an opportunity for us to let other insurance carriers know that this is important for the state of Georgia. It's important to privately insured Georgians as well."
Jenkins, who said both she and her daughter are hard of hearing, said Georgia does not require private insurance carriers to cover children's hearing aids, but her group is lobbying lawmakers to try and get that law passed.
"That's definitely what our end goal is," said Jenkins. "We feel like this step is a step in the right direction."