Aural frustration: Man's hearing aids confiscated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- These days Richard Norris, 44, watches television with the volume cranked up. It is loud very loud. Sometimes his family complains about the noise level.

"My hearing is bad, real bad," said Norris.

Norris said he has always needed a hearing aid, but didn't get his first pair until 2010 when Medicaid paid for it. He said he has manage to communicate by reading the person's lips to know what he or she is saying.

"I have 70 percent loss in one ear and 50 percent loss in the other," he said.

He said his devices were worn out after five years so he returned them to his hearing aid company in January for a new pair. He paid his $40 fee and wore them until the first week in March. Norris said he went back to the store to make an adjustment and was surprised.

"They more or less just confiscated the hearing aid and said that I needed to contact Medicaid," he said.

Norris, who worked in the insurance field before, was stunned. He thought he was pre-approved, but Medicaid refuse to pay for the devices.

"I was just in shock. I couldn't do anything, I was in shock," he said

The company took back the hearing devices, citing a change in his Medicaid eligibility. Norris said this latest development has been a setback.

"It is real hard to talk on the phone," he said, "It is hard to communicate with people, I have to ask people what they're saying multiple times it is really aggravating."

Shelisha Coleman at the Agency for Health Care Administration said there are no changes in Medicaid's policy for hearing aids.

Coleman said the Florida Department of Children and Families determines a person's eligibility for Medicaid. She said someone from DCF will contact Norris to find out what changed; she said they will work to resolve the issue.


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