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Why was Children's Hearing Aid Texas (CHAT) created?

Prior to the 2003 Texas legislative budget cuts, infants and children with permanent hearing loss in low-income families were provided with audiological care and/or hearing aids through the Texas Department of Health Program known as the Program for Amplification for Children of Texas (PACT). Since the budget reductions took effect, PACT now only serves Medicaid-eligible children, which initially left 6,700 hearing-impaired children statewide without any services. CHAT was created to provide coverage for the low-income, hearing-impaired infants and children in Central Texas who continue to exist outside the realm of all state and federal programs.

How does CHAT pursue its mission?

CHAT reaches out to local audiologists and school officials in the hope of spreading knowledge about the program and finding more low-income infants and children in need of service. CHAT is able to purchase hearing aids from the manufacturer and finance auditory services through licensed clinicians with the funding provided by fundraisers and donations made by individuals, foundations and corporations.

Who is involved in CHAT?

CHAT is governed by an advisory board that works in conjunction with the Board of Directors of the Austin Community Foundation. For more information regarding the advisory board, please click here.

Who qualifies for CHAT services?

CHAT will pay for audiological services and hearing aids for infants and children who meet the following criteria:

  • Must be between birth and 18 years of age.
  • Must be diagnosed with a permanent, bilateral hearing loss.
  • The childs family must not be eligible for Medicaid, nor have private insurance.
  • The family's income must not exceed 150% of the federal poverty guidelines for that year (please note that new poverty guidelines do not become available until March of the new year).
  • The child must reside within one of the following counties in Central Texas:
    Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Comal, Fayette, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, Lee, Llano, Milam, Travis, Williamson.

How does a family determine if they qualify for CHAT's program?

The family can determine if they qualify for CHAT's program by contacting the Director of Hearing Services, Monica Allen, by phone at 512-828-0510 or by email at

How much will it cost a family to access CHAT's services?

Once a child becomes eligible for CHAT services, there is no charge to the family.

How long does it take to receive CHAT approval?

Receiving approval will generally take one-two week s after CHAT's receipt of a complete application. If an application is sent in without all the necessary parts, the approval time will be much longer. A childs family or service providers are able to inquire about the status of an application by contacting Monica Allen at 512-828-0510.

What is the maximum monetary amount of coverage CHAT provides?

CHAT will cover the price of diagnostic and fitting services, hearing aids from an approved hearing aids list and earmolds.

What types of hearing aids does CHAT provide?

CHAT has contracts for digital, programmable hearing aids with four hearing aid manufacturing companies: Oticon, Phonak, Starkey and Unitron. For a more detailed list of available hearing aids, please see the Available Hearing Aids List.

Will CHAT pay for the replacement of lost hearing aids and earmolds already received through the CHAT program?

Fees generated from the loss of hearing aids and/or earmolds already received through the CHAT program will be the responsibility of the family, parent or guardian. Please note that there is a fee for the replacement of lost hearing aids purchased through Oticon and Unitron. Fees are $100 and $75, respectively.

How often can a child reapply for services through CHAT?

Children can reapply for services through CHAT after 6 years.

Will service providers be reimbursed for services provided before CHAT approval?

Eligibility must be established before a service provider can conduct fee-based services for reimbursement. If services are provided without CHAT approval, the service providers will not be reimbursed. This includes diagnostic evaluations, ordering earmolds or hearing aids or other audiological services. Service providers will be notified by phone and/or mail regarding a childs approval.

Is my child able to see their current audiologist for services through CHAT?

CHAT has contracts with several audiologists in the Austin area who provide their services. If a childs audiologist is not a participating audiologist or does not wish to become a participating audiologist, CHAT will locate an approved program audiologist.

How many children has CHAT served?

In 2005, CHAT served 40 children in the Central Texas area. In 2006, CHAT estimates that a minimum of 60 children will be served through its programs.

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