INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana’s law licensing hearing aid dispensers dodged a bullet last week when a bill that would have deregulated dispensers and several other occupations was withdrawn. The proposed law would have eliminated a number of state boards, including not only the Committee of Indiana Hearing Aid Dealers, but also agencies regulating dietitians, cosmetologists, barbers security guards, and private investigators.
Financially strapped state governments frequently look to save money by identifying and eliminating boards that may not be serving a useful function, or at least not providing enough value to justify their cost. The professions that would be deregulated generally oppose such efforts, contending that state regulation plays an important role in maintaining professional standards and protecting the health and safety of consumers. Frequently, the opposition prevails.
That was the case with Indiana House Bill 1006, which was withdrawn from consideration on January 26. Among those voicing opposition was Jane Bowman, BC-HIS, president of the Indiana Hearing Aid Alliance (IHAA). In testifying before the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee, she pointed out that hearing aid dispensing is a highly technical field that requires specialized training to ensure successful fittings. She also warned of the risks to the public health if unlicensed people are permitted to dispense. Indiana licenses audiologists separately from hearing instrument specialists, and audiologists would not have been affected by this measure had it passed.
The measure also drew strong opposition from other professional groups, including cosmetologists and barbers.