As this issue was getting set to head to the printer, the big news out of Washington was the passage of HR 1. More officially referred to as The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and more commonly known as the $787 billion stimulus package, it was subsequently signed by President Barack Obama on February 17 in Denver.

I wonder if his hand shook when he held the pen? I can barely fathom how one man so new to the job could sign off on such a ridiculously massive amount of money without so much as a shiver. But the question of how well he handled the pressure pales in comparison to the bigger one I have as I sit at my desk: “What’s in it for the hearing industry?”

I know that almost a fifth of the bill—some $147 billion—is slated for myriad issues and initiatives under the health care umbrella; COBRA and electronic medical records are a couple of the biggies. And there’s plenty more to be financed by such a staggering slice that represents one of the largest federal investments in the sector in history. But beyond those generalities, I haven’t much of a clue how it may relate to hearing.

So I did what everyone does nowadays. I googled. For a lack of anything specific or concrete, I skeptically tapped out “stimulus package and hearing healthcare.” And you know what I came up with? Some specifics, courtesy of tax and financial advisor Mark E. Battersby, in a column from The Hearing Journal found on the Audiology Online Web site topped by the headline: “Economic stimulus package offers benefits to owners of hearing healthcare practices.” Whoa. And if that wasn’t enough, smackdab in the middle of the page was an eye-grabbing pull quote that reads “… hearing professionals are now entitled to an additional first-year depreciation deduction equal to 30% of the adjusted basis of qualified property .…”

On the verge of yelling “Stop the presses!” I thankfully spared myself any anachronistic embarrassment by reading the article’s first paragraph, wherein I discovered the economic stimulus package Battersby referred to wasn’t the one that had been signed this week, it was one signed back in 2002 by President Bush. Whoa, indeed.

So it’s back to square one. I’m still on the lookout for info and input in regard to how the hearing health care sector may benefit —or how it won’t. So if you have any ideas or thoughts, I’m all ears.

Will Campbell
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