Young lobbyist shepherds hearing-aid bill

'I wanted kids to have them'

staff writerMay 21, 2010 

— Collin Tastet, 9, knows lawmakers by name and face.

He knows to start chatting about his issue long before it's time to vote. And after the state House passed a bill Thursday that would require all insurance plans to cover some of the costs of hearing aids for children, he immediately went looking for Senate members who will next consider the issue.

"It's a lot more work than you think," he said of getting lawmakers to adopt the bill.

Collin, who lives in Greensboro, has moderate-to-severe hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears. He has worn them since he was 8 weeks old, which has helped him stay ahead in school and develop speech that shows no signs that he had any hearing loss.

Collin has urged lawmakers to ensure that other children have a chance to get hearing aids.

"I wanted kids to have them," Collin said Thursday.

Collin has worked relentlessly to build support for the bill, which would require insurers to cover up to $2,500 per hearing aid for each ear every three years, said state Rep. Bob England, a Rutherford County Democrat and physician who was one of the sponsors of the bill. The coverage would apply to children and young adults up to age 22.

The bill cleared the House Thursday on a 107-0 vote and requires another vote in the Senate before it would go to Gov. Bev Perdue to be signed into law. Collin said he plans to keep up the pressure until then.

ben.niolet@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4521

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