Updated: 07/28/2014 10:40 PM
Created: 07/28/2014 4:35 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
"It means a lot to a lot of people," Andrea Dowell said.
Dowell is talking about a hearing system clipped to her 10-month-old daughter's pink headband.
"It takes our voices and converts them into vibrations against her skull," Dowell said. "Then, the vibrations go straight to her cochlea and that goes straight to her brain."
Dowell's daughter Ashlyn was born without ears, but her inner ears are fully developed allowing a bone-anchored hearing system to work.
"As long as she has a bone-anchored hearing system to wear, she can pretty much hear sound just like you and I," Dowell said.
Ashlyn uses a Cochlear Baha Implant System that is currently covered by insurance, but a federal proposal would reclassify the device as a hearing aid. That would mean no coverage by Medicare.
Dowell said she's worried if Medicare makes the change in coverage, private insurance companies and Medicaid will do the same.
A spokesperson for the Department of Human Services in Minnesota said that's not necessarily the case. She said Medicaid currently covers medically-necessary hearing aids.
"Each Baha, on the cheaper end, is about $4,000," Dowell said.
Dowell said it's the only answer for her daughter dealing with a condition only one in 10,000 babies have.
"This isn't an option," Dowell said. "It's not a luxury for her and for a lot of kids, adults and older people. It's their livelihood."
For example, her daughter's first big smile happened when she first tried out the Baha.
"She was sleeping and her eyes popped open right away as soon as we started talking," Dowell said. "She just kind of stared at us for awhile and got a smile on her face."
Regardless of coverage, that moment was priceless for the Dowell family.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are taking comments on the proposal. If you want to share your thoughts on the potential Medicare change, click here.
Preparing for Ebola: Health System Working Together
People who work in the Northland's health system are communicating on a regular basis, to prepare for Ebola, even though it's unlikely to appear here.
St. Luke's Honored by American Heart Association
St. Luke's received three honors from the American Heart Association on Thursday, for their approach and teamwork when taking care of heart and stroke patients.
Group of Medical Pot Backers Criticizes Dayton
Advocates of expanding Minnesota's new medical marijuana program to allow more people to qualify say they have the support of every gubernatorial candidate except incumbent Democrat Mark Dayton.
Pak's Green Corner Closes Its Doors After Two Years In Business
After serving food for over two years, West Duluth's Pak's Green Corner has decided to close its doors. Owner Pak Williams said it isn't a money issue, she just wants to spend more time with her family.
First Duluth Kwik Trip Opens on Grand Avenue
The first Duluth Kwik Trip is now officially open for business. The newest one-stop shop opened Thursday on 4201 Grand Avenue in West Duluth. It's the third one in the area.