A local lawmaker has filed a bill in the Mississippi Senate that would require health insurance agencies to help cover health care costs for hearing-impaired children.
Newly-elected State Sen. Kathy Chism, who represents Benton, Pontotoc and Union Counties in District 3, submitted Senate Bill 2268 in the Legislature recently. The bill requires certain health insurance policies and contracts to provide coverage and benefits to children under the age of 21 who are covered under a policy or contract of insurance. Such coverage is to be provided when the prescribing physician has issued a written order stating the dependent child is deaf or hearing impaired and treatment is medically cleared.
Under the bill, coverage and benefits would cover treatment costs, including the price of hearing aids.
Sen. Chism said she submitted the bill in part because she has family members who were deaf.
“This bill is for the benefit of the hearing impaired like my uncle, Bedford Leath and his Wife Bernice, who were both deaf,” Chism said. “My uncle spent many hours teaching me as a six-year-old child sign language. Because of my childhood with my uncle and aunt, this bill and the hearing impaired have a very special place in my heart.”
The freshman senator also thanked Amy Livingston, alderman for the City of New Albany, as well as Sen. Nicole Boyd of Oxford, for their support with the bill.
District 13 Rep. Steve Massengill, which includes portions of Benton, Lafayette, Marshall and Union Counties, has also submitted the same bill in the House for the past three years, Sen. Chism said.
If either of these bills passes, they would take effect July 1.
In addition to Senate Bill 2268, Sen. Chism has also introduced Senate Bill 2119, which extends the repeal date on a provision that adds a two percent tourism tax for hotels, motels and restaurants for the City of Pontotoc, currently set to expire in July. If her bill passes, it can be renewed one more time after that.
She also is an additional author on a bill to raise teachers’ salaries by $1,000, which passed the Senate Wednesday, as well as one that clarifies the prohibition of hunting on streets and railroads and one that would require public schools and institutes of higher learning to designate athletic teams according to biological sex and provide protections to schools that maintain separate athletic programs for females.
Chism, who is new to politics, said she is seeking to learn from her fellow lawmakers.
“Open minds and listeners are learners,” she said. “And, I don’t remember who said it, but to those with great patience, good things will come. With great patience maybe I will learn a lot and good things will come. The more that I learn, the harder I can work for my constituents and that’s what I’m there for.
Going down there, I didn’t know what to expect,” Sen. Chism continued. “This is my first time in politics. All of the senators and representatives are so accommodating and so nice. They are so willing to help in any way. That gave me more confidence to know that my fellow workers are there for me and to help me, as well as all of the other new ones.”