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Hearing Organizations Host Event to Thank Rep. Melissa Hart for Her Support of Hearing Aid Tax Credit Legislation

About 40 people joined Representative Melissa Hart (PA, 4th district) in Cranberry Township near Pittsburgh, PA on October 30 to thank her for her co-sponsorship of H.R. 414, the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit, and to discuss the importance of hearing health to overall well being. The gathering was organized by the Hearing Loss Association of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania chapters (HLA, formerly Self Help for Hard of Hearing People) with support from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the DePaul School for Hearing and Speech in Pittsburgh, and Hearing Industries Association (HIA).

1116melissa1.jpgThe HLA program included the presentation of the Pledge of Allegiance by Phillip Thomas, a mainstreamed third grade student at St. Alexis School in Wexford, PA where Rep. Hart attended school as a child. A gift basket was presented to Rep. Hart after the program by Phillip and Meghan Kernan, a first grade student at the DePaul School.

Teresa Nellans, Assistant Director of the HLA of PA served as mistress of ceremonies and spoke about people with hearing loss. Mrs. Nellans emphasized that those with hearing loss want to live independently in old age and that children who receive hearing assistance when identified at birth can learn, work, and participate more fully in society. There are over a million people with hearing loss in Pennsylvania, and 95% of them can be helped with hearing aids and/or other assistive listening devices.

Representative Hart addressed health issues in general and H.R. 414 specifically. She explained how the legislation might work and move through Congress. According to Teresa Nellans, Rep. Hart was informed and showed genuine interest in helping people with hearing loss reduce the cost of hearing aids. Rep. Hart is a co-sponsor of this legislation which will provide a $500 tax credit for people with dependent children with hearing loss as well as those 55 and older. The legislation will have to come before the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Rep. Hart is a member. The bill has been co-sponsored by 110 Representatives, and a companion bill, S. 1060, is co-sponsored by 17 Senators.

Andrew Bopp, representing HIA, the organization of hearing aid manufacturers, presented Rep. Hart with a lighthearted gift after the program. HIA also sponsored the meal that was served to attendees. Mary Beth Kernan, President of the PA Chapter of the AG Bell Assn. spoke about the organizations service to those with hearing loss, and David Williams from the DePaul School informed the audience of the schools goals and students. Wayne Benson, President of HLA Pittsburgh, closed the event by discussing the costs of hearing aids and the reason for H.R. 414.

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