Monday, March 22, 2010

House Exempts Hearing Aid from Medical Device Tax

Class I exemption dropped in final negotiations

Hearing Loss Association of America has been working for some time with a coalition of organizations to advocate for a tax credit on hearing aids. This coalition found a new role when health care reform legislation threatened to impose a tax on hearing aids. Together we contacted our representatives to voice our concerns and HLAA sent out an action alert. You responded. Since then, several of you have asked: what happened? Here’s the latest:

The House of Representatives adopted a Health Reform Reconciliation Bill yesterday to amend the Senate’s overall health reform bill which the House also adopted verbatim as part of the process. During final negotiations over the weekend, the FDA Class I medical device tax exemption was dropped; however, a specific hearing aid exemption that was included in the legislation last Thursday was retained. This will exempt hearing aids from the medical device tax that will be imposed on almost all other devices not sold at “retail.” The Senate will now consider adoption of the House’s Reconciliation Bill through a simple majority vote, although the process is likely to be challenged on various legal and procedural grounds.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), lead sponsor of the Hearing Aid Tax Credit, organized much of the opposition to a hearing aid tax. In addition, every Representative who attended an HIA-sponsored local AG Bell/HLAA/IHS event since 2007 in support of the tax credit championed a hearing aid tax exclusion, including Reps Shelley Berkley (D-NV); Dave Camp (R-MI); Ron Kind (D-WI); Allyson Schwartz (D-PA); Mike Thompson (D-CA); Dina Titus (D-NV); and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). This demonstrates the effectiveness of hearing health organizations working together both in Washington and across the country.

As part of the final House Reconciliation bill, the medical device tax rate was lowered from 2.9% to 2.3%. This reflects the widened tax base created by the inclusion of Class I devices which was the desire of numerous Class II and III device manufacturers.

The House Reconciliation provisions are not binding until adopted by the Senate through its reconciliation process, and we will keep you posted as this issue develops. In the meantime, the Senate bill will be enacted into law when signed by the President. That bill does contain the Class I exemption which also excludes hearing aids from the tax. Contact Andy Bopp, with any questions.

Recently I read an article titled: “Activism makes you happy. New research shows there is a link between being politically active and wellbeing by Aditya Chakrabortty. (The Guardian (UK), March 2, 2010). Well, when we are successful, we are even happier!

Don’t forget: if you called or wrote to your Representative be sure to get back to them to thank them for their efforts to see to it that hearing aids were not included in the medical device tax.

Thank you for making a difference!


  1. It is just great that we, the hearing impaired, are coming out of the closet and making our needs known. This is wonderful that through the work of these people like Representative Mc Carthy,were able to get this through.

  2. This is just a small step. I would like to see all medical devices that give the disabled quality of life exempt from all tax and/or be fully paid by medical insurance. When this happens, then we will have won the battle.

  3. You're right! Medical devices should be exempt from all tax. It will help lots of people who have disabilities to save money.

  4. Glad to see this information.its very useful for eneryone.thanks for sharing this post.
    Hearing Aid