Oregon Health Plan patients used to only be able to get one hearing aid every five years. Now they can get a second.

Oregon Health Plan patients used to only be able to get one hearing aid every five years. Now they can get a second.

Kateweb/Flickr

The Oregon Health Authority has changed is policy on hearing aids. Low-income patients can now get two aids, instead of just one.

Up to now, the Oregon Health Plan had limited patients to one hearing aid every five years. They can be expensive, costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

The change came at the urging of Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton, a retired police officer, including a 28-year tenure as Silverton’s police chief. He asked the state to change the rules because people with one hearing aid can feel like sound is only coming from one direction. 

“When people lose hearing in one ear, they typically lose it in both,” said Lewis. “If they have one hearing aid most sound comes from one direction.”

Lewis was appointed to the Oregon Legislature in 2017, after the resignation of Vic Gilliam, who has ALS. Lewis won election last fall.

The Oregon Health Authority researched the possible effects of the change Rep. Lewis suggested, and state health officials agreed.

“So, representative Lewis asked us to look into this and when we did we discovered that we could easily change the rules and it would better serve the needs of our members,” said England.

Lewis said technological advances have reduced the price of hearing aids, so the change shouldn’t cost the state additional money.

“The fact it doesn’t cost additional money to make this happen is really important.”