WASHINGTON, D.C. — Another prominent lawmaker has joined the ranks of bipartisan co-sponsors for the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, announced her support of the bill originally introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a press release this week.
The Maine Senator also joins colleagues, Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who co-sponsored the bill when it was re-introduced into the Senate in March.
“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
The legislation, which was recently attached to an FDA bill, was passed in the Senate HELP committee on May 11th with nearly unanimous support. Some version of the legislation is expected to pass the Senate by the end of the summer.
OTC Hearing Aid Legislation Support
While both the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and American Academy of Audiology (AAA) have pointed out that in some cases an OTC device may be useful as an “early gateway” for users with mild hearing loss, both organizations have expressed concern over some of the bill’s language and have offered recommendations to improve the bill. The International Hearing Society (IHS) continues to strongly oppose the bill.
Currently the OTC legislation is supported by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Bose, and the Gerontological Society of America.
*featured image courtesy theatlantic