Cochlear Opposes Proposed CMS Rule That Would Significantly Limit Access to Cochlear™ Baha® Implant System Technology for Medicare Patients

July 22, 2014

Media Contact
Kerri Lewandowski
Marketing Manager, Cochlear Americas
(512) 354-7164



Life changing hearing solution may become unavailable for those in need; the public is encouraged to take action to support continued coverage of the Baha Implant System

Centennial, Colo., (July 22, 2014) - Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, announced today that it is advocating against a newly proposed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rule that would change the classification of the Cochlear™ Baha® Implant System under Medicare, treating it as a hearing aid subject to exclusion from typically covered benefits. If adopted, the rule would significantly limit access to this life changing technology for Medicare patients and would interfere with the ability of current Baha Implant System users on Medicare to maintain and upgrade their equipment.

"After decades of struggling with hearing loss and trying several sets of hearing aids, I decided I had to make a change," said Malcolm Simon, bilateral Baha Implant System recipient. "I finally got smart and got my Baha Implant System when I was 80 years old. I've since rediscovered many things I used to enjoy, including going to church and participating in volunteer activities. I owe my renewed spirit to the support I received from CMS and want to ensure my peers have similar access to the life changing technology that I am so fortunate to enjoy."

By age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss and by that time, many people have already tried hearing aids, but report never using them due to dissatisfaction with overall benefit, comfort and performance in noise. 1 For others, wearing a hearing aid is simply not an option due to conditions such as microtia and atresia (deformity or absence of the outer ear). For these patients, the Baha Implant System is their only hope for better hearing. The other alternative - untreated hearing loss - is not recommended by experts and could lead to potentially damaging consequences including, depression, decreased cognitive function and even dementia.2,3

"In 2006, CMS correctly classified the Baha Implant System as a prosthetic device which replaces the function of the middle ear and cochlea. To date, the Baha Implant System has helped well over 100,000 people across the world and thanks to the coverage CMS has provided, it has benefitted thousands in the United States alone," said Anthony Manna, President, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions. "If the new proposal were to be accepted, the United States would be one of the very few industrialized nations not to cover this life changing technology for patients in need, for many of whom there is no alternative treatment option and access to Baha Implant System technology is most critical."

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About the Baha Implant System

Designed to help people with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-sided deafness, the osseointegrated Baha Implant System utilizes the body's natural ability to conduct sound. By connecting to the bone behind the ear, the Baha Implant System replaces the function of the outer or middle ear and sends sound directly to the healthy inner ear. In people with single-sided deafness, sound is sent through the bone to the hearing ear, bypassing the non-hearing side. A physician must determine if a patient meets the candidacy criteria for the Baha Implant System and deems the solution medically necessary.

About Cochlear

Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. It has a dedicated global team of more than 2,700 people who deliver the gift of sound to those with hearing loss in over 100 countries. Its vision is to connect people, young and old, to a world of sound by offering life enhancing hearing solutions.

The Cochlear promise of "Hear now. And always" embodies the company's commitment to providing its recipients with their best possible hearing performance today and for the rest of their lives. For over 30 years, Cochlear has helped hundreds of thousands of people either hear for the first time or reconnect them to their families, friends, workplaces and communities.

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  1. Hearing Loss Association of America. Basic Facts About Hearing Loss. Available at: Accessed on July 15, 2014.
  2. Kochkin, S., & Rogin, C. M. A. (2000). Quantifying the obvious: The impact of hearing instruments on quality of life [PDF, 5.5MB]. Hearing Review, 7(1), 8–34.
  3. Lin, F. R., Metter, E. J., O’Brien, R. J., Resnick, S. M., Zonderman, A. B., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68, 214–220.