Oregon State Senate Bill 491 - your assistance requested

Over the past few months my hearing has profoundly worsened, a fact I  was finally able to officially confirm in February. If you have a  hearing loss, you're already in touch with how much it can minimize  and/or eliminate your ability to engage in causal conversations. Now  imagine a loss profound enough to take both most verbal communications  away, and your ability to appreciate most music. Hearing can disappear  slowly, or overnight, due to an illness, accident, the progression of a  birth defect, an ototoxic medication like some antibiotics and  anti-inflammatory drugs, or even listening to an iPod or stereo too loudly for  too long.<br /><br />I'm seeking your assistance to call attention to a bill which has already passed the Oregon State Senate, and will soon be before the House.  This bill promises to help me and many others  with a profound hearing loss restore a certain level of sound, speech, and music perception. Through support  of a medical procedure known as a bilateral (ie: two ear) cochlear implant.<br /><br />Senator Deckert of Beaverton has sponsored SB 491  (<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://landru.leg.state.or.us/07reg/measures/sb0400.dir/sb0491.intro.html">http://landru.leg.state.or.us/07reg/measures/sb0400.dir/sb0491.intro.html</a>).  A bill "Relating to insurance coverage of bilateral cochlear implants;  creating new provisions; and amending ORS 750.055 and 750.333". I urge  you to review the details below, and consider contacting your senator in  support of this bill. You can find your legislator here:  <a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/">http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/</a><br /><br />Further details regarding cochlear implants and SB 491:<br />1) This bill "...Requires health insurers that provide coverage for  cochlear implants to provide coverage of bilateral cochlear implants...".<br /><br />2) Cochlear implants are essentially a bionic, or implanted, prosthetic  substitute for hearing aids which help the profoundly hearing impaired  (ie: deaf) hear when regular hearing aids can no longer help. They are a  technology which has been in use since 1969, and FDA-approved since 1984  (see: <a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant</a> ). As a mature  technology, with well-established FDA guidelines for use, cochlear  implants are the only technology which exists to help the profoundly  hearing impaired/deaf hear.<br /><br />3) Each implant can cost upwards of $80,000, and one is needed for each  ear in order to provide the greatest benefit for the patient, many do  not have the resources for such essential and expensive medical  treatment, so they depend on insurance and government assistance.<br /><br />4) Many insurance companies only provide coverage for one ear, under the  guise that two (ie: bilateral) implants are an experimental procedure.  This is akin to telling someone who needs a hip replacement that they'll  only have one hip, instead of two, replaced. Bilateral cochlear  implantation has been an accepted, mainstreamed medical practice since  1998. Over 3,000 implantations have been performed, including over 1,600  on children. (source: <a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://advocacy.letthemhear.org/research.php">http://advocacy.letthemhear.org/research.php</a> ).<br /><br />5) Bilateral implants have proven to provide a greater quality of life  for thousands, by enabling improved verbal/auditory communication over  monaural implants, and by giving the ability of sound localization, and  greatly improved speech recognition - things people with normal hearing  take for granted.<br /><br /><br />My personal motivation behind this, is that I now have a profound  hearing loss. This congenital sensorineural loss was "steady" between  60-70dB (moderate loss) for roughly 15 years prior to around August of  2006, when it suddenly dropped. In Feburary of 2007 it dropped again  (to a 95dB bilateral loss), placing me now in the "profound loss" category (the most severe ranking possible).<br /><br />Bilateral (two ear) implants are critical for folks like me; While cochlear  implants are a mature technology which has been around for over three decades, they're still imperfect. Modern  implants have at most 24 electrodes to replace the 16,000 delicate hair  cells that are used for normal hearing, and the "sound" of human voices  perceived through implants has been compared to robotic voices with  laryngitis. Given such "limited" capabilities, bilateral implants would  be critical for some folks to restore a reasonable level of speech  comprehension; a capability essential for functioning in the "hearing  world".<br /><br />Your time and consideration are greatly appreciated.