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Health Care

Doctor talking to interpreter and patient

Many people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing experience barriers to culturally and linguistically appropriate health care or communication access to health care. Therefore, health care and hearing health remains a special interest topic for MNCDHH, even though it is currently not a part of our strategic 5 year plan.

In order to ensure that all patients, regardless of hearing (and vision) status, receive communication access to their health care information, MNCDHH and community stakeholders have done the following:

  • Made changes in public policy
  • Increased financial support for accessible and culturally appropriate programs, such as Deaf Community Health Workers and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division Mental Health program.

What are the issues?

  • State and federal law do not cover the cost of some services or products that are essential to the health and well-being of people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing, including hearing aids and follow up services for cochlear implants.
  • There is a shortage of certified interpreters, which results in a lack of qualified interpreters provided in health care settings. This issue is currently being exacerbated as testing for the national interpreter certification system is currently on hold.
  • There is a lack of means for Deaf Community Health Workers to charge for their services. The law that allows for these services to be billed to Medicare is already in place. However, the billing system favors community health workers who serve larger populations. Due to the small percentage of culturally deaf patients, current law prevents the vital services they provide from being reimbursed.
  • There are inadequate funds to cover the cost of interpreter access for volunteer-based support groups, including those for addiction, grief, and other issues.

Latest health care and hearing aid updates

Ask MNCDHH: Tell Me about Hearing Aids (Part 3)
I'm losing my hearing as an older adult and I think I need hearing aids. What do I do?

Ask MNCDHH: Tell Me about Hearing Aids (Part 2)
Hearing aids for adults and insurance coverage

Ask MNCDHH: Tell Me about Hearing Aids (Part 1)
Hearing aids for children (birth to 18) and insurance coverage

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is Now Law
President signed legislation on August 18, 2017. FDA has 3 years to decide safety regulations and collect public comments before allowing them on the market. 

Explanation about Minnesota's New Closed Captioning Law
Minnesota's new closed captioning law for hospital waiting rooms and surgical centers takes effect starting August 1, 2016. More information is available about what the law means and who it affects.

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