Julie Morrison has been an advocate for children and families her entire career. Prior to being elected to the Illinois Senate in 2012, Julie was on the advisory council for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where she worked to reform the department and advocate for the welfare of children in the system.
Sen. Morrison has followed her passion for helping children and people with disabilities since she was elected by serving as chair of the human services committee, the special needs caucus and the children’s health caucus. Because of her leadership, Sen. Morrison has been instrumental in passing dozens of important bills to improve children’s health and wellness across the state.
This past year, she was particularly moved by two young brothers who are living with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and the courage they both displayed by bringing attention to this issue, which ultimately changed state law.
The Martin brothers, Hunter and Owen, both have difficulty hearing without their hearing aids. But these devices are expensive and must be replaced every few years as the boys grow. Their parents, who are both educators, have good health insurance; but these hearing aids weren’t covered. So, when Hunter lost his hearing aid one day and had to wait two weeks for a replacement, he had a very difficult time at school trying to hear what his teachers were saying. It was frustrating and exhausting for him and his family.
The whole ordeal encouraged Hunter to bring attention to the issue. So last year he started attending Illinois House and Senate insurance committee hearings to speak out about the need for hearing aids to be covered by health insurance. That’s when Hunter met Sen. Julie Morrison, who was immediately impressed with his ability to advocate for this issue at such a young age.
Sen. Morrison sponsored the bill in the senate requiring insurance companies to cover the replacement of hearing aids every three years for children 18 and under. The bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the general assembly with bipartisan support, and it was signed into law.
Sen. Morrison was able to help change state law so kids like Hunter and Owen can go to school and hear their teachers and classmates, and live a normal life without their parents having to worry about the cost of replacing those $4,000 hearing aids. The whole experience inspired Hunter to learn more about government and politics. He even got to work with Sen. Morrison as her page for a day, and now he says that after high school he wants to join the Army and go to law school and eventually become a senator to advocate for people just like Sen. Morrison.