Thursday, May 27, 2010

9-year-old lobbyist gets hearing aid bill approved ‎

9-year-old lobbyist gets hearing aid bill approved

RALEIGH – A 9-year-old boy helped lobby a bill through the General Assembly.

On Wednesday, lawmakers gave the hearing aid insurance coverage bill unanimous approval. With a shake of the hand by Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Collin Tastet, of Greensboro, saw all of his hard work pay off.

“Now the children that need hearing aids can get them, because the insurance wasn't going to pay for them,” Tastet said. "But now that this bill passed, those kids are going to get their hearing aids.”

Even though he is not yet a teenager, Collin walked the halls of the General Assembly as a lobbyist. His goal was to get hearing aids covered under the State Health Plan.

“I just wanted to help other kids because I have hearing aids too,” he said. “And I know how important they are and how they help you hear.”

After months of work, and with his proud parents by his side, the General Assembly gave their stamp of approval to the proposal on Wednesday.

“He said, 'I want to come back and talk to my friends here,' as he calls it,” says Collin's dad, Arthur Tasset. “And I kept asking, 'Do you want to go back?' And he said, 'Yep, I want to see it through.'"

The bill says under all health plans, including the state's health benefit plan, people under the age of 22 will be covered for one hearing aid per hearing impaired ear. This includes new hearing aids every 36 months, or a new hearing aid when alterations to the current one won't fix it, and coverage for the initial hearing evaluation, fitting and adjustments.

Collin's dad says he watched this bill very closely to make sure it made it through.

“Then when we were on vacation, we had a vacation planned, he listened over the Internet for the first house vote,” says Arthur. “And we've come for every major House vote when we could.”