RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Bipartisan legislation that would require health insurance companies to cover hearing aids for Virginia children 18 and younger has passed the General Assembly.

The Senate version of the bill (SB1003) was sponsored by two Hampton Roads legislators, Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) and Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake), who is hearing impaired. Spruill spoke this session about his experience alongside Clay Dupilka, a Virginia kid who was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears several years ago.

Clay’s mother Crystal talked to WAVY back in 2020 about how shocked she was when her insurance denied claims for Clay’s hearing aids. She ended up having to pay about $3,000 out of pocket. Crystal eventually found an ally in the General Assembly in DeSteph.

“I am honored to have worked alongside my co-sponsor, Senator Spruill, to introduce this bill,” DeSteph said on Wednesday. “Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a child’s development, and we believe that every child in Virginia deserves access to affordable hearing aids. With this new law, we are taking a significant step towards ensuring that all children in Virginia can receive the healthcare they need. I especially want to express my appreciation to Crystal Dupilka and her son Clay, for their unwavering dedication to this legislation.”

DeSteph’s office says the coverage includes one hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear, up to $1,500, every 24 months, as well as related services.

It applies to policies, contracts, and plans delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed on and after January 1, 2024. The legislation would apply to health maintenance organizations, and corporations providing health care subscription contracts.

“We are thrilled that this bill has been passed, and we are grateful for the support we received
from our fellow legislators,” Spruill said. “This new law will improve the quality of life for children in Virginia who are hearing-impaired, and we are proud to have been a part of this process.”