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Better Hearing Institute Launches New Website to Build Support for the Hearing Aid Tax Credit
Apr 28, 2008 (12:04 PM EDT)

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) launched a new website as part of its campaign to spur passage of a federal tax credit of up to $500 per hearing aid for boomers, seniors and parents of children with hearing loss. About 40% of people who do not use hearing aids, according to a recent BHI national study, are more likely to purchase them in the near future if the tax credit were available.

The BHI website, , is an excellent resource and tool for those concerned about the needs of people with hearing loss. It will reach out to adults 55+ and parents of children with hearing loss and help to ensure that their voice is heard in Washington. The website underscores BHI's vital role as the "Advocates for America's Ears."

"Our effort is grounded in the sad fact that although 95% of people with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, fewer than 23% of such Americans (7.38 million people) currently use them," said BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. "That's tragic, and we as a nation must do better."

"Nearly 2 out of 3 adults with hearing loss cite financial constraints as a core reason that they do not wear hearing aids," said Kochkin. "With the hearing aid assistance tax credit, boomers, seniors and parents of children would have the financial boost they need to get their hearing loss treated. These people are the reason that Congress needs to step up and take action."

Hearing loss affects an estimated 31.5 million (1 in 10) Americans: -- Among the most prevalent birth defects in America, it affects 3 infants per 1,000 births. -- 1.4 million children under 18 have a hearing loss. -- More than 10 million older Americans have age-related hearing loss.

"The legislation will play a critical role in attaining one of the goals of the federal government's "Healthy People 2010," which is to increase the number of people with hearing loss who use hearing aids," said Kochkin. "The tax credit is the most cost-effective means to achieve this critical goal."

Passage of H.R. 2329, introduced by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and S. 1410, introduced by Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) could assist up to 1.2 million children and 11.5 million Americans ages 55 and above in treating their hearing loss. It could help those in need save up to 25% - 35% on the purchase of hearing aids.

Neither Medicare nor the vast majority of state mandated benefits cover hearing aid purchases. In fact, more than 70% of hearing aid purchases involve no third party payment at all, which places the entire burden of the purchase on the consumer. The average cost for a hearing aid, including fitting, evaluation, and post-fitting treatment, in 2004 was $1,800. Almost 2/3 of individuals with hearing loss require two devices, increasing average out of pocket expenses to $3,600.

Untreated, hearing loss can have many negative consequences for taxpayers, children, seniors, and their families:

-- Without early intervention, children with hearing loss, according to a 1995 study, cost schools an additional $420,000 and face overall lifetime costs of $1 million in special education, lost wages, and health complications -- Loss of income per household amounts to up to $12,000 per year, based on a 2005 BHI study, while it costs the economy $18 billion annualized in unrealized income taxes. -- For seniors, untreated hearing loss causes additional costs to Medicare and other health programs due to loss of independence, social isolation, depression, safety issues, and quality of life.

Extensive research demonstrates that treatment with modern hearing aids brings measurable improvements in social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being, for both patients and their family members.

The hearing aid assistance tax credit has won the support of the bipartisan Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, and, in an unprecedented fashion, organizations representing hearing health professionals, consumers, educators, providers, and manufacturers: the Hearing Loss Association of America (formerly SHHH), International Hearing Society, Deafness Research Foundation, the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance, the American Academy of Audiology, the A.G. Bell Association, and the Hearing Industries Association.

Founded in 1973, the Better Hearing Institute ( ) is a not-for-profit educational organization whose mission is to educate the public about hearing loss, its treatment, and prevention. Visit the new tax credit website at .

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