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Hearing Aid Business: Hearing Aid Tax Credit Update

Summer ’10 for the hearing aid business was ushered in by meetings of the two major consumer organizations. On June 17-20, HLAA welcomed 800 people to Milwaukee for a four-day meeting packed with educational and informational sessions and the following week, AG Bell drew 1500 people to their biennial convention in Orlando. 

HIA played a featured role, with presentations on the Hearing Aid Tax Credit by HIA staffer Andy Bopp greeted enthusiastically at both meetings. Both HLAA and AG Bell local members have been extremely influential in the Congressional events that HIA sponsors around the country to thank Members of Congress who support the tax credit legislation. As Andy reported to those assembled, efforts are underway to schedule events for Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Both are co-sponsors of S. 1019, Senator Harkin’s Hearing Aid Tax Credit bill. At the same time, the coalition is working to schedule events for Reps. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Pete Olson (R-TX). Both would be hosted by groups that have previously held events for Representatives in their area. 

The tax credit coalition continues to work with lead sponsors Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) to insure that the Hearing Aid Tax Credit is considered when major tax reform legislation moves to the top of the Congressional agenda. They are well supported by other Representatives and Senators, many of whom have attended coalition events back in their home districts. 

Additionally, at the HLAA convention, HIA provided a hearing screening booth for spouses and family members, as well as local employers, to have their hearing checked. Carole Rogin and Andy Bopp supported the volunteer efforts of audiologists from Northern Illinois University, Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and HIA is deeply appreciative of their time and dedication.

A major highlight of the HLAA meeting was a June 18th session, “Hearing Aid Research and Development: What It Means for the Consumer.” Chaired with a huge amount of knowledge, care and humor by Dr. Catherine Palmer, the three-hour session featured presentations from HIA members companies – a great job from Dr. Laurel Christiansen, GN Resound; Dr. Diane Senay, Oticon; Dr. Lisa Berkely, Phonak; Dr. Thomas Powers, Siemens; Dr. Jason Galster, Starkey; Elizabeth Vrchota, Unitron and Dr. Joni Rykken, Widex – kudos to all from HIA for terrific talks. This panel has traditionally been a complaint corner at this meeting, but the technical excellence of the presenters and the equally sophisticated questions from HLAA members gave this year’s presentation major importance. Highlights of the HLAA questions will be shared with HIA Members at the 2011 HIA Annual Meeting.

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