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December 13, 2006

Ardmore Family Fighting Medicaid Decision

From: KTEN - Denison,TX,USA - Dec 13, 2006

A family in Ardmore is fighting to appeal a decision made by Medicaid that denies their deaf child a second cochlear implant. The family says Medicaid paid for their one-and-a half-year old son to have his first implant in April of this year, but he can only hear out of his right ear. KTEN's Andrea Kurys has the story.

The Johnson's say when their son Jacob was born, he failed three hearing tests at the hospital. Doctors diagnosed him as profoundly deaf when he was just 10 days old.

In April, Medicaid paid for Jacob to have a cochlear implant installed in his right ear. Now, he can hear sounds, but his parents say doctors told them a second implant would give him the chance for full hearing capacity. Jacob's mother says they were devastated when Medicaid denied them the second implant. She says he's already made so much progress with just one. "Oh, he started saying 'mama' about a month after it was activated and they had me start counting how many words he was saying," said Jennifer Johnson. "He was saying so many words that I've lost count, it's over 50."

The family says Medicaid currently denies all children in Oklahoma a second implant. The surgery costs 70 thousand dollars, and the Johnson's say they can't afford it on their own. They say they are the first family to appealing the decision, and will be in court next month for a hearing.

Dr. J Paul Keenan, the Director of Provider Support Services, says the decision to deny the bilateral implants is made on a scientific basis. He says cochlear implants are still a very new technology, and there are major risks involved in the surgery. He says there's still no solid evidence that a second implant creates much of an improvement in hearing.

Andrea Kurys, KTEN News.

© 2006, WorldNow and KTEN.