WisconsinReport.com Is Not Affiliated With Any Government, Agency, Company Or Other Website With Wisconsin In It's Name.
News, Views and Commentary Since 2001
Senator Lassa Bills Are Advancing
WISCONSINREPORT.COM (12/11/07) - Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) announced that legislation she authored to create a fraud, waste and mismanagement hotline at the Legislative Audit Bureau has been passed by the State Senate. Senate Bill 86 requires the Legislative Audit Bureau to create a waste, fraud and mismanagement hotline where state employees and the general public can call anonymously 24 hours a day to report misuse of state funds.
“This proposal is a necessary step in making state government more accountable,” said Lassa.
“By providing citizens and state employees an opportunity to report mismanagement in a neutral and non-partisan setting we are insuring that state government agencies and organizations who receive state grants are using taxpayers’ dollars appropriately and efficiently,” Senator Lassa says.
Lassa said that 25 other states have already adopted this type of hotline including the state of Ohio.
The Ohio state government has received 639 reports of fraud in the first six years of its program, and reclaimed $16.1 million back for the state treasury.
“I am happy that the Senate voted for this simple and common sense bill that will give Wisconsin residents an opportunity to report any misuse of state funds,” said Lassa.
“By housing this hotline at the Legislative Audit Bureau, we are ensuring that any reports of fraud or waste do not go unchecked.”
Senate Bill 86 will now be sent over to the Assembly.
“I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Assembly will act swiftly in scheduling this legislation for a vote so that we can make government more accountable,” said Lassa.
Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) has also announced that Senate Bill 88 passed the Senate. The bill mandates that insurance companies cover medically necessary hearing aids and cochlear implants for children under the age of 11.
Every year, about 200 Wisconsin infants are born with permanent hearing loss. Sometimes, hearing loss is not detected until a child is 2, 3 or even 4 years old. Hearing loss in children affects language development, academic achievement and can lead to social isolation.
Statistics have shown that most deaf and hard-of-hearing children read at a 4th grade level upon high school graduation and have a 76% unemployment rate after graduation.
Senate Bill 88 guarantees that all children up to the age of 11 who are diagnosed as deaf or hearing impaired by a physician or licensed audiologist can receive hearing aids or cochlear implants through their parent’s insurance policy.
“Hearing aids and cochlear implants greatly reduce the impact that hearing loss can have on a young child’s cognitive and academic abilities,” said Lassa.
“By ensuring that children receive the proper equipment and treatment early in life, these kids won’t have to undergo intensive special education and vocational rehabilitation later in life.”
Unfortunately, Wisconsin law does not mandate that insurance companies cover hearing aids or cochlear implants and parents must pay out of pocket – as much as $3,000 per hearing aid, for their children.
Many children wear two hearing aids that need to be replaced about every three years, resulting in a cost of $18,000 throughout their childhood. Yet most insurance policies consider hearing aids to be cosmetic in nature, and do not cover them.
“Research shows that early intervention in children with hearing loss can provide a savings of $5,000 - $10,000 per child per year in reduced or eliminated special education services and a savings of about 1 million dollars per person over their lifetime,” said Lassa. “In Wisconsin, that correlates to a taxpayer savings of $2 million a year.”
“It is shameful that insurance companies deem hearing aids and cochlear implants as cosmetic and not as the medically necessary devices they are,” said Lassa.
“Tummy tucks and face lifts are cosmetic having the ability to hear is a necessity. Families should not be forced to drain their savings accounts, use their children’s college funds, use credit cards or take out second mortgages to pay for medically necessary equipment and taxpayers should not bear the brunt of paying for special education costs because insurance companies are failing to provide medically necessary equipment.”
Currently, nine states, including Illinois and Minnesota, mandate that insurance companies cover hearing aids.
Senate Bill 88 is now awaiting a public hearing in the Assembly.
In addition to the above Lassa legislation, Governor Doyle has signed another bill into law that Senator Lassa worked on:
Assembly Bill 52 creates an exemption to quarantine requirements for law enforcement dogs that bite a person, if the dog is immunized against rabies and performing law enforcement duties.
Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Samantha Kerkman and John Steinbrink, and Senator Julie Lassa for their work on the bill.