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Specialists concerned about provincial changes to hearing aid funding

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Hearing specialists are criticizing a move by the province that would prevent them from authorizing ADP funding for their patients.

A move they fear will mean longer wait times for their hard of hearing clients.

Starting Monday, instrument specialists who help their patients get fitted with hearing aids won’t be able to authorize up to $1,000 in ADP, or Assistive Devices Program, funding.

“Out of pocket, you’re looking at anywhere from about – without ADP – probably about $3,500 on up. $3,500 being on the low end,” explained Chris Arnold, president of the Association for Hearing Instrument Practitioners of Ontario.

Anyone looking for financial aid will now need to book a visit with an audiologist.

Arnold fears requiring an audiologist to be present for every hearing assessment in Ontario will devastate the industry and create serious backlog for patients.

“There will be a lot of people who will be without access or waiting months,” he said.

Arnold believes the most vulnerable will be those living in remove communities and long-term care homes.

Sarah Funkenhauser has felt the impact professionally as a hearing specialist, and personally, as a person who has worn a hearing aid since she was 3-years-old.

“I can’t go a day without them, and there’s thousands of people that cannot go a day with hearing aids,” she said.

“I’m just a little worried that people would be without their hearing aids, waiting for that repair, waiting to pick them up,” added Bobbi-Jo Marlatt, a board member for the Association of Hearing Instrument Practitioners of Ontario.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Health said, in part: “Our government is making it easier and more convenient to access hearing devices by removing the need for a signature from both a prescriber and an authorizer on the ADP’s hearing device form.”

They added: “The ministry requires a regulated health professional, such as a doctor or audiologist to sign this form, which HIPS are not.”

“When we approached them about becoming regulated they said we have enough education to be self-regulated and we have a very strong association. My comeback to that is – why did it not matter for the last 30-plus years?” Arnold asked. “If they could just add us back on, that’s basically what we want and I think that’s the only way we can remedy this.”

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