There are two especially important pieces of pending legislation in congress now that are particularly relevant to both Audiology as a profession and all Americans with hearing loss. The proposed bills recognize the effect of hearing loss on our aging population and summarized their findings in the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2007. The following is pulled directly from the bill section 2.

“Congress finds the following:

(1) Approximately 30,000,000 Americans experience some degree of hearing loss and by 2030 that number is expected to increase to 78,000,000 Americans.

(2) Hearing impairment is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults, with approximately 33 percent of Americans aged 60 years and over, and 40 to 50 percent of those aged 75 years and older, experiencing hearing loss.

(3) Hearing loss is a major barrier to participating in society, both economically and socially.

(4) Hearing loss among senior citizens, if left untreated, can result in isolation and depression.

(5) The Department of Veterans Affairs allows veterans to directly access audiologists and has reported that this policy, adopted in 1992, provides high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective hearing care.

(6) The Office of Personnel Management allows Federal employees and Members of Congress to directly access audiologists through the Federal Employees Health benefits Program.

(7) Audiologists are licensed in each State and the District of Columbia and the scope of services furnished by audiologists is determined by each such jurisdiction involved.

(8) Consistency in Federal policy with respect to hearing health care services should be encouraged to the greatest extent possible.”

H.R.
1665 IH
Sec. 2 Findings

These findings have led to the proposal of two bills. The first is the “Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act” which would provide a tax credit for the out of pocket expense of hearing aids of up to $500 per qualifying hearing aid or $1000 tax credit for two hearing aids. This benefit would be available to individuals of age 55 and over and could be claimed every five years. As an Audiologist I am thrilled to see the government begin to recognize the importance of hearing aids as a vital part of senior healthcare. The second bill is the aforementioned Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2007. This bill recognizes the cost efficiency gained when patients are able to go directly to an Audiologist without the need to first get a referral from another doctor.
If these bills pass it will be a significant step forward in making it easier and more affordable than ever before to get quality hearing care to millions of Americans. Please consider taking action today. Just follow these links:
  1. You can review these bills through their links from this page or go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c110query.html and search by the bill numbers S. 1410 and H.R. 1665.
  2. To generate an automatic letter to print and send your congressman about these and other issues please see the American Academy of Audiology website and their “Take Action” page at http://capwiz.com/audiology/home/.
  3. Also, you can visit the Better Hearing Institute’s “Hearing Aid Tax Credit” webpage at http://www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org/
As exciting as these bills are they still need to be passed to make a difference. If you or someone close to you is affected by hearing loss please take a moment to make a difference.
This blog posted by Suzanne Yoder, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology and owner of HearWell Center. Please visit our website for more information http://www.hearwellcenter.com/