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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers on Tuesday gave final approval to a proposal that would help people who are deaf or hard of hearing access hearing aids.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, creates a hearing aid distribution program that will provide financial assistance for the purpose of buying hearing aids to deaf or hard of hearing people earning less than the federal poverty level.

To make less than the federal poverty this year, an individual must earn less than $12,490 per year; a family of four must earn less than $25,750 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Audiologists will need to perform assessments on patients before they are eligible for the state aide.

Legislative budget writers devoted $100,000 to the Statewide Hearing Aid Distribution Fund for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing may accept donations for the fund, and may write regulations for doling out the money.

A nonpartisan fiscal analysis of the plan estimates that 10 percent of Missouri's population is deaf or hard of hearing. The analysis says that people with disabilities are more likely than others to live in poverty.

The bill now goes to Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, for consideration.

The legislation is Senate Bill 101.

Jack Suntrup • 573-556-6184

@JackSuntrup on Twitter

jsuntrup@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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