Honolulu, Hawaii



RE:    S.B. No. 535

       S.D. 2




Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Twenty-Ninth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2017

State of Hawaii




     Your Committee on Ways and Means, to which was referred S.B. No. 535, S.D. 1, entitled:




begs leave to report as follows:


     The purpose and intent of this measure is to require health insurers in the State to provide a minimum benefit of $1,500 for a reasonably medically necessary hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear every thirty-six months.


     The Disability and Communication Access Board; The Georgia E. Morikawa Center; Isle Interpret, LLC; National Active and Retired Federal Employees; and three individuals submitted written comments in support of the measure.


     The Insurance Division of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund; Hawaii Medical Service Association; and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii submitted written comments on the measure.


     Your Committee finds that, according to the National Institutes of Health, about one-third of Americans between the ages of sixty-five and seventy-five and about onehalf of those older than seventy-five have some degree of hearing loss.  Your Committee also finds that approximately three to four out of every one thousand children born in Hawaii are identified as having permanent hearing loss.


Your Committee acknowledges that Hawaii's Medicaid managed care plans cover hearing aid evaluation, selection, purchase, and fitting every three years, and subsequent hearing aid checks, hearing testing, ear molds, repairs, and batteries.  However, current federal Medicare insurance plans for the elderly only cover hearing testing and do not cover hearing aid purchases and related services.  Therefore, your Committee believes it is appropriate to require health insurance coverage for hearing aids for individuals with all types of hearing loss and to specify a minimum amount of coverage and frequency for replacement of hearing aids under the coverage.


     Your Committee has amended this measure by changing its effective date to June 1, 2050, to facilitate further discussion.


     As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Ways and Means that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 535, S.D. 1, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Third Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 535, S.D. 2.


Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Ways and Means,