WASHINGTON, DC — Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), along with Representatives Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) applauded the passage of the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act last week.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 94-1.
The OTC provision of the FDA legislation would allow for hearing aids to be used “by adults to compensate for mild to moderate hearing impairment” to be sold over the counter. Additionally, the bill also requires the FDA to issue regulations containing safety and labeling requirements for the new OTC category of hearing aids.
In Applauding Bill Passage, Legislators Note Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss
While hailing the decision of the Senate to pass the legislation, many lawmakers that supported the bill made a point of mentioning the importance of hearing in overall health.
“Expensive, inaccessible hearing aids not only deny millions of Americans hearing loss relief, they leave our neighbors facing isolation, anxiety and even memory loss. By sparking innovation and competition in this industry, this bill will improve the lives of our constituents in their communities, businesses and homes. With bipartisan passage of this bill through Congress, we have moved closer to a country where mild to moderate hearing loss is no longer a debilitating diagnosis.”
–Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)
Maine Senator Susan Collins also echoed similar statements regarding the importance of hearing in overall mental and physical health when stating her support of the bill:
“Hearing aids allow Americans who experience hearing loss to communicate with friends, family, coworkers, and others as well as participate fully in society. I recently chaired an Aging Committee hearing on social isolation among seniors, which revealed that hearing loss, if left untreated, may contribute to loneliness, increasing the risk of serious mental and physical health outcomes. By making some types of hearing aids available over the counter, this commonsense legislation will help increase access to and lower the cost of these products for the consumers who need them.”
–Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Bill’s Original Sponsors Cheer Increasing Consumer Access to Hearing Aids
In response to passage of the OTC provision in the Senate, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (an original co-sponsor of the legislation) said that “a lot of people are looking forward to the enactment of this provision”.
“Consumers are interested in new hearing aid products to improve their quality of life at an affordable price. The more products available, the more consumers will be able to find something they can afford that works for them.”
–Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
In comments regarding the bill’s passage, Senator Warren expressed gratitude to her colleagues and cheered the move as a win for consumers:
“This law will make a life changing difference for millions of Americans who experience hearing loss but can’t access the hearing aid technology they need because of high costs and excessive regulations. By passing this legislation and making some hearing aids available over the counter, we will increase competition, spur innovation, and bring down prices. I’m grateful to my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – for joining me in this effort.”
–Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
The video, shown below, was posted on Senator Warren’s website following passage of the bill late last week:
Text of the OTC bill text can be read here.
Source: Office of Elizabeth Warren