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SAN GABRIEL VALLEY DIGEST

The Region : Hearing-Aid Ads Altered

April 22, 1993

Following a Federal Trade Commission investigation, a hearing-aid seller with offices in the San Gabriel Valley has agreed to stop allegedly "false and misleading" advertising that indicates Medicare pays for hearing aids and tests.

Federal officials say Hearing Care Associates, along with six other companies across the United States, used Yellow Page advertisements that led readers to believe Medicare, the federal medical insurance program for those over 65 years old, helps cover the cost of hearing-related equipment and services.

"Medicare does not ever pay for the cost of hearing aids," said Collot Guerard, an FTC attorney. She said it only helps pay for hearing tests ordered in advance by a physician for diagostic purposes.

Hearing Care Associates and company President Gregory Frazer have signed a settlement requiring the company to correct future Yellow Pages advertisements, prominently post signs in the reception area with the correct information about Medicare coverage and agree to not misrepresent the coverage by any medical insurance, FTC officials said.

Federal officials say the consent agreement does not constitute an admission by Hearing Care or Frazer of misrepresentation. However, if found in violation of FTC advertising regulations in the future, the company could face a civil penalty of $10,000.

Frazer said he had no comment on the settlement. The company has offices throughout Los Angeles County, including Glendora, Arcadia and Alhambra and elsewhere in Los Angeles.

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