Since 2003, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) has supported legislation that would allow consumers to receive a tax credit for the purchase of hearing aids. The Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act (Senate bill S.48), reintroduced in the Senate on January 5 by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), would provide a non-refundable $500 tax credit for the purchase of a single hearing aid, or $1,000 for two, once every five years. In the past, a version of the bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives included a $200,000 per year income eligibility cap. A bill has not yet been introduced in the House.
Several iterations of the tax credit bill have been introduced over the span of nearly 14 years, and none have passed. HLAA has therefore decided to focus its efforts and resources on initiatives that we believe will have a more far-reaching impact. Some of these current efforts include:
- Working toward the implementation of the recommendations contained in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability.
- Supporting legislation that would ensure Medicare coverage for the cost of hearing aids.
- Providing input to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is currently working on a rulemaking that would consider a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing devices.
- Supporting reintroduction of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016, a bill introduced in December 2016 by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to provide for the regulation of OTC hearing aids.
While we are diligently working on these and many other efforts to improve the lives of people with hearing loss, we cannot do it alone. If ever there was a time in the fight for more affordable and accessible hearing health care for HLAA members to mobilize their extensive grassroots efforts, now would be it. Whether you call, write or visit your congressman, file a complaint when you are denied access, or attend local council meetings to advocate on behalf of those with hearing loss, the importance of your efforts cannot be overstated.
HLAA’s commitment to advocating for more affordable and accessible hearing health care for everyone with hearing loss will not waiver. But we will be selective about the issues and legislation we support. We seek to support legislation that has a greater potential to impact more people and provide tangible and significant benefits. We will be sure to keep you updated on all developments.