Members of Congress Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Make
Hearing Aids Available Over the Counter
Washington, D.C., March 21, 2017: - U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), today reintroduced legislation (S.670) to make hearing aids for those with mild to moderate hearing loss available over the counter (OTC).
On January 5, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau announced the members selected for the second term of the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC). Lise Hamlin, HLAA director of public policy, will co-chair the DAC along with Sam Joehl, principal technical consultant for the SSB BART Group.
The first recommendation of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) report Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability is to “Improve population-based information on hearing loss and hearing health care.” In short, we need more information and data about hearing loss to have a better understanding of, at a minimum, risk factors associated with hearing loss, hearing health care needs, and the impact of hearing loss and its treatment on health, function, economic productivity and quality of life.
Since 2003 HLAA has supported legislation that would allow consumers to receive a tax credit for the purchase of hearing aids. 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.
HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley and Director of Public Policy Lise Hamlin attended the final Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Open Commission Meeting of 2016 on December 15. Several HLAA chapter members were in attendance as well, including Veronica Davila Steele, who heads up the new Prince George’s County (Maryland) Chapter; Russell Misheloff, leader of the Washington, DC Chapter; and Barry Kasinitz from the Montgomery County (Maryland) Chapter.
On December 1, 2016, Senate Bill S.9 was introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to provide for the regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. The “Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016” would make certain types of hearing aids available over the counter and remove many of the barriers for consumers who could benefit from hearing aids.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee) is working on a negotiated rulemaking (RegNeg) to create an agreement between advocates for people with disabilities and the airline industry to ensure greater access.