Sen Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has reintroduced Hearing Aid Tax Credit legislation in the Senate (S 1019), which would expand coverage to people of all ages who have hearing loss, according to the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Washington.
Hearing Aid Tax Credit legislation in the House (HR 1646), introduced in March by Rep Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), has already attracted 70 co-sponsors—11 of whom are members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
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, the HIA says.
The Hearing Aid Tax Credit would provide assistance to many of the 32 million people who need hearing aids to treat their hearing loss. If enacted, S 1019 would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid every 5 years for all people purchasing a hearing aid. The House legislation would provide a credit 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, according to the HIA.
"With the reintroduction of the Senate bill, the Hearing Aid Tax Credit coalition has come closer to finally addressing the need for financial assistance for people who need hearing aids," says Jerry Ruzicka, HIA’s chairman. "To gather support for both bills, HIA brought together manufacturers, professionals, and the people and parents who depend on our technology—all of whom agree that a tax credit for hearing aid purchases is the best way to improve access."
The hearing health community has formed a coalition to focus Congressional attention on the importance of hearing health and the burdens associated with the lack of financial assistance for treatment. The measure is actively supported by hearing health organizations, such as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), Hearing Loss Asociation of America (HLAA), Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), International Hearing Society (IHS), and Hearing Industries Association (HIA).
The legislation has attracted grassroots attention, with people nationwide sending more than 25,000 e-mails and letters to their elected Members of Congress in 2008 via www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org, according to the HIA.
Two days after Harkin introduced S 1019, dozens of hearing care industry leaders attended "Hearing on the Hill" to meet with more than 80 Congressional offices to gather further support for the tax credit.
HIA is the national trade association of manufacturers of hearing aids, implantable hearing devices, assistive
listening devices, component parts, and power sources for amplification devices. The HIA urges people to visit www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org for information about the bill, or they may contact Andy Bopp, [email protected].