WASHINGTON, DC — The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was introduced into the 115th Congress on Monday, March 20th. It is a bipartisan bill that would allow hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter (OTC) to address mild to moderate hearing loss. Like a similar bill introduced late last year, this bill was in sponsored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who proposed the legislation’s introduction on Monday in the Senate.
Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) sponsoring the same bill on the House the following day, March 21st.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017
Some of the key provisions in the proposed bill include:
- The creation of a new category of hearing aids sold directly to consumers.
- OTC products are intended to be used by adults to compensate for perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment
- Establish or adopt output limits that are appropriate for the devices.
- Designate labeling requirements that cover how consumers may report adverse events using the devices.
- Specify conditions or contraindications for which use of an OTC product is not advised.
Several members of Congress weighed in on the proposed legislation.
“I hear from Iowans about the high cost of hearing aids, and I understand the concern,” Senator Chuck Grassley said. “If you can buy non-prescription reading glasses over the counter, it makes sense that you should be able to buy basic, safe hearing aids, too. The goal is that by making more products more easily available to consumers, competition will increase and lead to lower costs. More consumer choice and convenience are what we want to accomplish with this legislation. This won’t affect those who need professional expertise to be fitted for hearing aids or have hearing aids implanted. The over-the-counter option is for those who would benefit from a simpler device.”
“Access to hearing aids shouldn’t be limited by cost and a lack of competition. Recent innovation in hearing aid technology and over-the-counter sales will ensure millions of Americans are able to obtain hearing aids that improve their ability to communicate with their families, at their jobs and everywhere in between.”
–Congressman Joe Kennedy, III (D-Mass)
The legislation has received endorsements from AARP, the Gerontological Society of America, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.