Hearing Aid Tax Credit Update

May 27, 2009

Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill Introduced In Senate
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 in contrast to the House bill which covers dependents and adults 55+.

Progress Made To Date
Hearing Aid Tax Credit legislation in the House (H.R. 1646), introduced March 19 by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), has already attracted 75 co-sponsors - 12 of whom are members of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

As of May 20, 2009 5,076 people have sent 15,225 letters to Congress (2 Senators, 1 Representative) using our website www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org. Our goal is 500,000 letters...so we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Hearing on the Hill
The Hearing Industries Association (HIA) hosted its biennial "Hearing on the Hill" to spotlight hearing loss and the Hearing Aid Tax Credit (H.R. 1646 & S. 1019) on Wednesday May 13. Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI), and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) were honorary event co-hosts. Reps McCarthy and Ehlers introduced H.R. 1646 in March 2009, and Senator Tom Harkin introduced S. 1019 just prior to the event. Over the course of the day HIA members met with over 80 Congressional offices, emphasizing the need for passage of the Hearing Aid Tax Credit as well as the universal support the bill has received from the hearing healthcare community. Representing BHI at the event was Cathy Jones, BHI President and Brian Kinnerk, BHI Vice President.

At the day's conclusion, Dr. Therese Walden of AAA and Christ Gustafson of IHS donated their time to conduct hearing screenings for Members of Congress and their staff using BHI's mobile hearing booth.

Further Activism Needed
In our April 10, 2009 newsletter we discussed a number of things which could be done to get a letter writing campaign initiated; and 13 methods of activism are listed on our website.

With more than 500,000 consumers visiting hearing aid manufacturer and retail chain websites a month we believe simply putting the tax credit logo on your website (with hyperlink to www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org) will get us the necessary letters. We know this works since a major hearing aid manufacturer has a message on the front of their website; as a result they are the top referrer to www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org for the past 10 months.

Dr. Juliette Sterkens has a couple of other ideas:

  1. Send ear plugs to your Senators and Congressmen to demonstrate what a 30 dB hearing loss is like.

  2. When your patients visit your practice whether it is for a fitting, adjustment, testing, repair, etc spend 2 minutes with them and take them to www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org. Help them personalize the letter, type in their correct identifying information ---- then have the patient hit the submit button.

We need your continued help; some people are not aware that with the new Congress that even if they sent letters last year that they have to send them again this year to make their voice heard.