President Obama Supports OTC Hearing Aids as Part of Fair Competition

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December 21, 2016

Legal titan and former Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis decried what he referred to as the “curse of bigness” – a school of thought reaching back to Thomas Jefferson that says the American economy is better off when there’s smaller companies competing head-to-head with each other.  With his term in office ending soon, President Barack Obama appears to be keeping with the Brandeis ideal:  fair competition among smaller business entities spurs innovation and consumer choice.

In what will be one of his final public comments as President, Barack Obama discussed the importance of fair competition in the marketplace as a non-partisan American ideal.


Improving “Fair Competition”


During his weekly public address to the nation on December 17th, President Obama mentioned several important issues that typically attract the attention of many Americans. Issues such as keeping the internet free, open & accessible, the importance of cracking down on conflicts of interest and ensuring all businesses play by the same set of rules.

Along with what many might expect to be the usual topics of attention – the Affordable Care Act, farmers and big business, the President specifically mentioned hearing aids as an area in need of more competition.

Here are his comments on over-the-counter hearing aids, taken verbatim from his address:


“This month, the FDA started taking steps to make hearing aids more affordable for more than the nearly 30 million Americans suffering from the frustration of hearing loss. We think people with moderate hearing loss should be able to buy a hearing aid over the counter as easily as you can buy reading glasses at your local pharmacy.”


Even though he is leaving office soon, President Obama’s comments show the OTC issue is a high priority. His comments may also signal that the recently introduced Warren-Grassley legislation, the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016, will be a focus of the upcoming Congress.

The entire transcript of President Obama’s December 17th message can be found here.

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