Hearing Aid Tax Credit Attracts Record 113th Co-Sponsor

Hearing Aid Tax Credit Attracts Record 113th Co-Sponsor

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Washington, DC, January 26, 2010 – Hearing Aid Tax Credit legislation in the
House of Representatives (H.R. 1646) shattered previous co-sponsorship
records when Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) became the 113th Rep. to co-sponsor
the bill on January 21. Less than a year after introduction, the legislation
surpassed co-sponsorship totals achieved in the Republican-majority 109th
Congress (ending in 2006) and the Democratic-majority 110th Congress (ending
in 2008) – both of which peaked at 112 co-sponsors at the conclusion of each
full two-year session.

With the remainder of 2010 left for the 111th Congress, tax credit supporters are
hopeful that the bill will be considered as part of any health reform proposals
that emerge in the coming months or major tax legislation that must be considered
in either 2010 or 2011 to address numerous expiring tax provisions.

The bi-partisan Hearing Aid Tax Credit was introduced by Reps. Carolyn
McCarthy (D-NY) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI) to provide assistance to some of the
32 million people who need a hearing aid to treat their hearing loss.
Medicare expressly excludes coverage of hearing aids as do most private
insurance policies, and as a result, cost is cited as a prohibitive factor
by two thirds of the people who do not treat their hearing loss. If enacted,
H.R. 1646 would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid for children and
people age 55 and older. While hearing aids can treat 95% of all hearing
losses, only 22% of those who could benefit from them actually use them.
Rep. McCarthy notes that “this bill would provide some assistance to people
who need hearing aids to reach their full potential, and it would do so in a
fiscally responsible way.”

HIA’s Chairman, Jerry Ruzicka, points out that “affordability of hearing
healthcare – not just the hearing aids themselves but importantly the
professional testing, fitting and training that makes them perform at peak
– is a concern. HIA brought together manufacturers, professionals, and the
consumers who depend on our technology, and we all agreed that a tax credit
for hearing aid purchases is the best way to improve access. The unity
behind our legislation is one of its key strengths.”

In fact, the Hearing Aid Tax Credit is actively supported by most hearing
health organizations including the Alexander Graham Bell Assn for the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA),
American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Speech Language Hearing Assn
(ASHA), Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Hearing Loss Assn of America
(HLAA) and International Hearing Society (IHS).

Working as a coalition and in partnership with Congressional champions, the
hearing health community has worked to focus attention on the importance of
hearing health and the burdens associated with the lack of financial
assistance for treatment. “Access to hearing technology, coupled with early
identification of hearing loss, is absolutely essential for children to
learn to listen and talk,” said Catherine Murphy, Director of Communications
& Public Affairs for AG Bell. “Parents of children with hearing loss
shouldn’t have to sacrifice other essentials in order to give their children
access to hearing devices they desperately need. We thank those members of
Congress who have supported this important issue.”

In addition to coalition efforts on Capitol Hill, local AG Bell and HLAA
chapters have hosted events for Representatives in their districts to
demonstrate the importance of this legislation to voters. In addition, more
than 30,000 letters have been sent to Congress since 2008 by people visiting
[2]www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org. Brenda Battat, executive director of HLAA,
notes that she is “delighted that HLAA members have played a key role in
reaching this new milestone. They have hosted joint events in California,
Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin for
Representatives who are supportive of financial assistance for people who
need hearing aids. Many other HLAA members have written letters and paid
visits to their representatives which have paid off in gaining such strong
Congressional support.”
Links: http://www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org

Chris Gustafson, BC-HIS, ACA, President of the International Hearing
Society, saluted the achievement of this milestone. “Reaching this new
threshold for the Hearing Aid Tax Credit is tangible evidence that lawmakers
are increasingly recognizing the importance of improving access to the
benefits of amplification for their hearing-impaired constituents. IHS is
pleased to be working jointly with providers, patients, and manufacturers in
support of this legislation.” The participation of IHS member hearing health
professionals has been instrumental to the success of the Congressional
events in various states.

Visit http://www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org for information about the bill,
or contact Andy Bopp, [email protected] with any questions.


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