Law would aid hearing impaired

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2008

For three decades, Marsh Mattingly has been helping people hear better and now she has taken the fight against hearing loss to Capitol Hill.

Besides being the president of Beltone Hearing Aid Center in Ironton, Portsmouth, Ashland, Ky., and Huntington, W.Va., she is the governor of the International Hearing Society. It was in that capacity that she made a recent trip to Washington, D.C. and met with several congressmen in an effort to get the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act passed.

The bill would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid once every 5 years for people age 55 and over or their dependents.

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IHS is among the numerous organizations to support this bipartisan legislation.

The bill is currently being debated in committee.

She and other members of the IHS met with Congressman Nick Rahall as well as staff members with Nelson Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd in April.

“All three of them haven’t made a decision (on this issue), so that is why we were after them,” Mattingly said. “All three of them are very strong politically so if we could sway one or two of them, they could sway the whole decision.”

Mattingly said that hearing loss is one of the most common and treatable illnesses affecting Americans.

“It’s a huge issue because of the amount of people who are hearing impaired,” she said. “While 31 million people suffer with hearing loss, only 23 percent seek the benefit of hearing instruments.”

Part of the reason is embarrassment or not wanting to admit that they have lost their hearing. The other is money, since the average cost for one hearing aid is $1,800.

“This is the reason I want to make my leaders in Congress aware of important legislation that would help offset this financial hurdle,” Mattingly said. “If we can get this tax credit bill going, so many people could benefit from the use of hearing aids.”

Mattingly said it was not just the person with hearing loss that is affected but everyone.

“It affects their working ability and income, it affects income tax,” she said. “So we are better off using the tax credit bill.”

For more information on IHS or the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act visit or call (734) 522-7200.