Veterans and Cochlear Implants
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Veterans' stories

7/7/2020

We are grateful to the Veterans who generously shared their experiences with receiving a cochlear implant via the VA system. The Veterans we spoke with hope that their positive CI outcomes will encourage others to “go for it” and that their suggestions for improving the process will be considered.
Read Veterans' Stories here: https://www.acialliance.org/page/VeteranStories

 

Hearing Healthcare through the va COMMUNITY care program

7/8/2019

    Jerrica Maxson AuD 

The Community Care system is a mechanism for approved non-VA clinicians to provide healthcare (including hearing health) to Veterans. The program has been expanded and is a Congressional priority to improve access for Veterans to a range of healthcare services.

Becoming a VA Community Care Provider
When I began work at Trinity Health in Minot (ND) in 2010, our clinic was already contracted with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In fact, our hospital had been participating in providing services via various VA departments for at least 33 years! The Minot Air Force Base is located just outside of our town, so we have also been serving active duty Air Force personnel via TriCare health insurance coverage for years. Additionally, we provide hearing diagnostic evaluations, counseling, fitting, and follow-up for hearing aids, osseo-integrated devices and cochlear implants through the VA. If a clinic is interested in providing care to Veterans, they may contact the Community Care Network staff within the VA directly. They would then be directed to the VA contracted payer. 

Read the full story here.

 

Eligibility for hearing TECHNOLOGY assistance from the va 

6/24/2020

This is an overview of who may qualify for a cochlear implant through the VA system. An evaluation by the VA will determine candidacy within the VA. We encourage Veterans who believe that they may be eligible for CI services to contact their local VA system for further information. Veterans must receive a hearing evaluation by a state-licensed audiologist to determine eligibility for hearing aids or cochlear implants and to establish medical justification for VA provision of these devices and related services.

Click here for full PDF

 

 

Veterans Access to Cochlear Implants

5/7/2018

As part of its mission of expanding access to cochlear implantation for individuals who may benefit, American Cochlear Implant Alliance CI clinicians are collaborating with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase awareness about CI candidacy in the general population as well as benefits for veterans receiving hearing services within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Read Veterans' Stories herehttps://www.acialliance.org/page/VeteranStories

Veterans receive a FREE lifetime membership to ACI Alliance.

Join now: https://www.acialliance.org/page/

 

Click here for PDF version

Veterans with Hearing Loss Lack Full Access to Cochlear Implants

ACI Alliance members include clinicians who provide cochlear implant services in a range of health plan settings including the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Although the VHA is diligent about selection of experienced, highly skilled clinicians to perform the surgery and needed audiology follow-up, the VHA lags dramatically behind other health care providers in referring candidates for cochlear implantation, creating a major coverage gap amongst veterans with hearing loss who do not benefit sufficiently from hearing aids (HAs). Aspects of the VA delivery system further complicate the CI process.

  • Deployment to a war zone increases risk of hearing loss, with 1 in 3 returning with measurable hearing loss, which can worsen over time.

  • In 2018, over 1,228,000 veterans received disability compensation for hearing loss.

  • In 2019, the VA made purchases of $14 million for cochlear implant systems for first time surgeries. Utilizing a Medicare average reimbursement of $27,000 per implant system, an estimated 518 veterans received cochlear implants in the VA system (up from 477 individuals in 2016).

  • A total of 812,761 hearing aids were dispensed in the VA system in 2019 (an estimated 406,380 individuals if we assume each patient was fit with two hearing aids).

  • VHA audiologists are trained to fit hearing aids and provide assistive devices, but many are unfamiliar with current CI candidacy testing and outcomes. Veterans report not having been told of their CI candidacy by their VA audiologist.

  • Long surgical wait times and the complexities of traveling to a VA center that performs the CI surgery remains an access issue for many.

  • Cochlear implant clinicians outside of the VHA system have reported seeing veterans who were not counseled about their CI candidacy because of age or the type of hearing loss they had. Neither are valid reasons for not referring.

  • Utilization of cochlear implants by individuals receiving hearing services in the VHA system in 2019 was less than that for those in the general hearing health system by a factor of one-sixth. That proportion has gotten worse since 2016 when the proportion was one-quarter.

  • CI candidacy numbers were computed using a conservative 5% estimate of those using hearing aids for both the VHA and general population.

Supporting Data VHA vs US General Hearing Health System (2019)


VA

US

Est adults fit with HAs

406,380

1.65M

Est CI adult candidates (5% of HA users)

20,320

82,300

Est. adults implanted with CI

518

12,400

Ratio

2.5%

15%

 

*Our Veteran members have access to a forum for asking questions and discussing issues relative to their experience. Contact Nichole Westin at nwestin@acialliance.org for more information. 

The mission of the American Cochlear Implant (ACI) Alliance is to advance access to the gift of hearing provided by cochlear implantation through research, advocacy and awareness.