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Senator Harkin Reintroduces Hearing Aid Tax Credit and Expands Coverage to People of All Ages

Washington, DC, May 11, 2009 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has reintroduced Hearing Aid Tax Credit legislation in the Senate (S. 1019) that would expand coverage to people with hearing loss of all ages. Hearing Aid Tax Credit legislation in the House (H.R. 1646), introduced March 19 by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), has already attracted 70 co-sponsors - 11 of whom are members of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The Hearing Aid Tax Credit would provide assistance to many of the 32 million people who need hearing aids 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, S. 1019 would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid every five years for all persons 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.

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

The hearing health community has worked as a coalition to focus Congressional attention on the importance of hearing health and the burdens associated with the lack of financial assistance for treatment. In addition, this legislation has attracted dramatic grassroots attention, motivating Americans across the nation to send more than 25,000 emails and letters to their elected Members of Congress in 2008 by visiting www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org. Just two days after Sen. Harkin introduced S. 1019, dozens of hearing healthcare industry leaders attended "Hearing on the Hill" to meet with more than 80 Congressional offices to gather even further support for the tax credit.

HIA, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the national trade association of manufacturers of hearing aids, implantable hearing devices, assistive listening devices, component parts and power sources for amplification devices. Visit www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org for information about the bill, or contact Andy Bopp, abopp@bostrom.com.

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