LONGBOAT KEY, FLORIDA — Congressman Vern Buchanan announced yesterday in a press release that he has co-sponsored the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act to help make hearing aids more affordable for seniors. In the announcement the congressman noted how approximately 50 million people in the US have hearing loss, which is a problem that is particularly acute among seniors.
Rep. Buchanan has represented Florida’s 16th district since 2013, a district that holds the fourth-highest population of seniors aged 65 and older of any congressional district in the US.
“Hearing loss is a major contributor to declining quality of life. I want to make it as easy as possible for seniors to get the help that they need.” –Rep. Vern Buchanan
Buchanan, a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, has been active on a variety of issues impacting seniors over the years.
Support Comes Following Negative Ad Campaign
As reported by Hearing News Watch last week, GOP supporters of the OTC hearing aid bill have come under fire in recent weeks from conservative groups for aligning themselves with the legislation backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
The Gun Owner’s of America, a pro-gun rights group with more than 1.5 million members, has been highly critical of the bill which it believes could impact sales of amplification devices used by hunters. The Frontiers of Freedom, a non-profit conservative group based in Washington, DC, has even launched a six-figure negative ad campaign against three GOP House members regarding their support of the OTC hearing aid legislation.
Current House members being targeted by the ad campaign include: Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA). It’s unclear whether the ads will be expanded to target any new co-sponsors such as Rep. Buchanan.
In comments last week to a local NBC affiliate in Georgia, Rep. Carter accused the “Big Six” hearing aid manufacturers of being the ones behind the attack ads and suggested that he will continue to support the legislation.
Last week the House Energy & Commerce Committee unanimously voted the legislation out of committee and the bill will now go to the full House of Representatives for final consideration.
The OTC legislation is currently endorsed 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 heraldtribune