WASHINGTON, DC—In what has become a biennial tradition, legislation was introduced April 12 in the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid purchased for children and for adults age 55 and older. Tom Latham (R-IA) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced H.R. 1479 with 36 original co-sponsors. The bill is unchanged from the bill introduced in 2009 in the 111th Congress that attracted 131 co-sponsors by the end of the session, the most yet.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are preparing to reintroduce companion legislation in that chamber.
The Hearing Aid Tax Credit would provide assistance to many of the 34 million people who need hearing aids to treat their hearing loss. Medicare expressly excludes coverage of hearing aids, as do most private insurance policies.
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.
Specifically, the tax credit bill is actively supported by consumer advocacy groups (the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Hearing Loss Association of America, and the American Tinnitus Association), by professional organizations (International Hearing Society, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, American Academy of Audiology, and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association), and by the hearing aid industry (Hearing Industries Association).
This legislation has also attracted strong grassroots attention. Americans from every state have sent more than 75,000 e-mails and letters to their elected Members of Congress since 2008 by visiting www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org.