Legislators Hear From Citizens

North Mahaska school board member Margaret Ratcliff, right and superintendent Angela Livezey talk with state representative Guy Vander Linden prior to the beginning of Saturday’s Eggs & Issues.

Area residents took the opportunity to speak out on several topics Saturday at the first Eggs & Issues event to feature state legislators. More than 80 people and five media outlets filled Smokey Row in Oskaloosa Saturday to ask the questions and hear the answers. Senator Ken Rozenboom and representatives Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets took questions from the audience. Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt served as moderator. Topics varied from separation of state and school vouchers to water quality to Medicaid issues and business taxes.

The first two questioners asked for assistance for children with medical needs. Jil Van Utrecht of New Sharon asked for the legislators look at restoring funding to the Early Hearing Detection Intervention fund that had provided some coverage for hearing aids for her 6-year old. Van Utrecht told the legislators the fund had been cut in 2012. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health web site effective July 1, 2017 hearing aids and audiological services funding was no longer available.

“My son has a hearing problem and needs a hearing aid,” said Van Utrecht. “Insurance companies won’t cover it because it is considered cosmetic. For him it is not cosmetic. He needs a hearing aid for the rest of his life.”

According to an Issue Brief from IDPH in FY 2016 mentions that 20 states currently require insurance companies to cover hearing aids and seven more states have legislation in process. The Iowa Legislature had provided between $160,000 to $200,000 for the program beginning in 2007. The funds were available on a first come, first serve basis.

Read the full story in the February 1 edition.