HIA Board Members include (l to r): Mikael Worning, Oticon; Jeff Taylor, Sonion US; HIA Vice Chairman Randy Raymond, Rayovac; Ron Meltsner, Widex; William Lankenau, Siemens Hearing Instruments; HIA Executive Director Carole Rogin; John Zei, Knowles Electronics; Andy Raguskus, Sonic Innovations; Cathy Jones, Phonak; HIA Secretary/Treasurer Gora Ganguli, Gennum; and HIA Chairman Jerry Ruzicka, Starkey Laboratories. (Not pictured: Paul Erickson, Miracle Ear; and Mark Gorder, Resistance Technology Inc.)

HIA Reviews 2003 and Urges Support of Tax Credit Legislation
Presenting a year of action and accomplishment, the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) met in Las Vegas, Nevada in late February. Over 75 industry leaders and guests gathered at the 2004 HIA Annual Meeting held at The Bellagio for two days of information on the hearing industry. HIA Chairman Jerry Ruzicka (Starkey Laboratories) and Executive Director Carole Rogin hosted the meeting which included topics ranging from cellular telephone interference issues, Hearing on the Hill (see July 2003 HR, p. 14), and hearing aid legislation.

 (l to r) International Hearing Society (IHS) President Samuel Hopmeier, Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA) President-Elect Craig Johnson and President Cynthia Ellison (not pictured), and American Academy of Audiology (AAA) President Brad Stach updated HIA members on their respective organizations’ activities.

Lucille Beck, PhD, audiology services director for the Veteran’s Administration provided a look at dispensing trends and activities within the organization. She said hearing instrument dispensing activity increased within the VA by 11% in fiscal year 2003 due to eligibility reforms and the rapidly aging veteran population. Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), reviewed results from the BHI Physicians’ Referral Program (see Feb 2002 HR, p. 25-28,60), as well as outlined a general strategy for pursuing consumer education.

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Larry Sabato

HIA lobbyist Deborah Outlaw of the Outlaw Group, Washington, DC, updated the industry on the building strength of the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act (HR3103 and S2055, for more information, see this month’s News). She congratulated all of the allied hearing health care organizations on the acquisitions of co-sponsors for the House bill and urged similar action on the Senate side. Larry Sabato, a political pundit, author of Feeding Frenzy: Attack Journalism and American Politics, and professor at the Univ of Virginia, provided a lively political weather report on changes in Washington DC, as well as his perspectives on the 2004 presidential election.

Awards & New Board Members
Continuing to serve HIA in a leadership capacity are newly re-elected HIA Chairman Jerry Ruzicka, Starkey Laboratories, and Randy Raymond, Rayovac Corp, elected as HIA Vice Chairman. Gora Ganguli, Gennum Corp, was elected as HIA Secretary/Treasurer. Carole Rogin continues as chief staff executive. HIA members elected 6 new directors to its 11-person Board. Elected for 2-year terms were: Alan Dozier, GN ReSound; John Zei, Knowles Electronics; Cathy Jones, Phonak; Randy Raymond, Rayovac; Jeff Taylor, Sonion US; and Jerry Ruzicka, Starkey Laboratories.

 American Speech Language Hearing Assn (ASHA) Associate Director-Audiology Services Vic Gladstone provided information on ASHA’s activities and upcoming convention plans for 2004.

At the meeting, HIA awarded its third “Volunteerism Award” to Thomas Victorian, Starkey Laboratories, for his leadership of the HIA Technical Committee and his dedication to resolving the issue of hearing aid digital cell phone compatibility. “The effort has been supported by many HIA companies over the last 9 years,” says HIA Chairman Jerry Ruzicka, “but Tom has been the continuous presence for the hearing aid side.” Ruzicka said that, throughout the effort, Victorian has “guided our companies and more than met our commitment to our consumers and to the cell phone manufacturers.” Victorian was also a key speaker at the HIA meeting.

The hearing aid manufacturer Interton, Plymouth, Minn, represented by company President Stephan Segolla, joined HIA as a new member during 2003. Additionally, Hellmuth Tuerk, representing EHIMA (HIA’s European organization counterpart) and managing director of Interton Hörgorate GmBH, was a special guest at the meeting.