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Direct Access to Audiologists & Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bills Introduced in U.S. House

On Wednesday, January 26, Representative Jim Ryun (R-KS) reintroduced two important bills that did not pass in the 108th Congress. The first is the H.R. 415, the "Hearing Health Accessibility Act 0f 2005." This bipartisan legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries the option of going directly to a qualified audiologist for hearing and balance diagnostic tests. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries with hearing loss or balance disorders are required to obtain a physician referral before seeing an audiologist. This bill would align Medicare 'direct access'
with programs administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), that allow patients to see audiologists without a physician referral.

Original co-sponsors of the "Hearing Health Accessibility Act 0f 2005"
include Representatives: Tom Allen (D-ME), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Dale Kildee (D-MI), George Miller (D-CA), Jim Walsh (R-NY), and Frank Wolf (R-VA).

Congressman Ryun also reintroduced H.R. 414, the "Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act of 2005." This bill would provide a tax credit of up to $500 per device toward the purchase of hearing aids once every 5 years.
The tax credit is non-refundable and may be used by a parent purchasing a hearing aid for a dependent child or parent ($500 per dependent per
device) or by individuals aged 55 or older who are purchasing a hearing aid for themselves.

Original co-sponsors of the "Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act of 2005"
include Representatives: Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Sandford Bishop (D-GA), Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), John Duncan (R-TN), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Henry Hyde (R-IL), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), George Miller (D-CA), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Ron Paul (R-TX), Mike Ross (D-AR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Robert Wexler (D-FL), and Bill Young (R-FL).

Please visit ASHA's Take Action page at www.takeaction.asha.org so that you can send thank you letters to bill co-sponsors, as well as send e-mails or letters to your U.S. Representative if they have not yet signed on in support of these two bills. It's anticipated that the Senate companion bills will be introduced shortly. Your help is needed as we gather support for these important issues. For more information on either bill, please contact Reed Franklin, Director of Federal and Political Advocacy, via e-mail at rfranklin@asha.org, or by phone at 800-498-2071, ext. 4473.

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