Making Hearing Aids Available and Affordable

The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was written in response to two reports on hearing loss and the lack of affordable hearing amplification devices. The legislation would allow the sale of hearing aids over-the-counter without the need for a physician’s prescription. A background paper has more details. 

GSA Supports Bipartisan Legislation

The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) and in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2017 as H.R. 1652  and S. 670, respectively. The House bill was cosponsored by Marsha Blackburn, (R-TN) and Buddy Carter (R-GA). The Senate bill’s original cosponsors were Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). GSA provided letters of support for both the House and Senate bills.

GSA Executive Director and CEO James Appleby authored an op-ed appearing in The Hill in favor of the legislation.

In the House, the bill was referred to the Energy & Commerce Committee, where GSA member Frank Lin, MD, PhD, provided testimony on hearing loss and the benefits to consumers and patients if low-cost hearing aids were more readily available. The video of the hearing reveals the concerns of supporters and opponents of the bill.

In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee debated the bill. In addition, GSA was part of a coalition of organizations that submitted a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) in support of including the OTC hearing aid legislative language in the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 934). The FDA bill will be the vehicle for moving the OTC Hearing Aid language to a vote and passage into law.


* GSA members on the PCAST include Sara Czaja, David Lindeman, and Jason Karlawish. Lin served as an advisor.

How You Can Help

If you support the concept of enabling people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase hearing aids at local pharmacies and drug stores, then contact your members of Congress and ask them to support S.934, the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, specifically the provisions on OTC Hearing Aids. To find the names and contact information for your elected officials, go to and

naasWelcome to GSA's policy branch, the National Academy on an Aging Society!

As a non-partisan public policy institute, the Academy actively conducts and compiles research on issues related to population aging and provides information to the public, the press, policymakers, and the academic community.

Policy Publications

The Academy produces publications aimed at providing researchers, teachers, students, and citizens interested in aging-related issues with valuable policy information. Its publications include the Public Policy & Aging Report and Public Policy & Aging E-Newsletter.


GSA invites you to learn how to translate your research into political action. See how GSA participates in advocacy and share your own opinions with policymakers.

Basic Toolkit

From writing letters to your Congressmen to Capitol Hill Visits, this basic toolkit teaches you how to advocate for aging issues.

The Legislative Process
An overview of the types of legislation, the role of individual Members of Congress, and the importance of committees.

Glossary of Legislative Terms
A listing of terms commonly used in connection with the legislative process.

Public Policy and Advocacy: The Basics
How-to guide on writing to Congress, setting up meetings with legislative officials, and getting to know the staff.

Roles of Congressional Staff
Learn the commonly used titles and principal functions of key staff.

Key Congressional Committees
View the most important committees for Aging and Health issues.

Hill Visit
Tips for your visit to Capitol Hill, from saying thank you to bringing a short summary of your research.

Map of the Capitol Complex
Use this map to minimize your chance of getting lost and help ensure that you're not late to appointments!

GSA Fact Sheet
Carry this fact sheet to tell Congressional staff about the background and goals of GSA.

Partner Organizations

GSA engages in advocacy primarily through its active participation in the following coalitions:

The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) is a 64-member coalition of national not-for-profit organizations representing over 60 million older Americans. LCAO’s diverse and dedicated association strives to preserve and strengthen the well-being of America’s older population by providing a voice for seniors and their families in the ongoing national debate on aging policy.

The Friends of the National Institute on Aging is a broad coalition of organizations committed to the advancement of health sciences research that could affect millions of older Americans. FoNIA supports the research and training missions of the National Institute on Aging and serves as a bridge between the NIA and supportive organizations and groups in order to promote and advocate for the NIA and its initiatives as public policies in health and research take shape. By bringing together like-minded organizations to support the federal government’s leading aging research institute, FoNIA addresses current and future challenges in advancing public awareness and acceptance of research goals.

Public Policy & Aging Report

Public Policy & Aging Report, published quarterly, explores policy issues generated by the aging of society. Each thematic issue is designed to stimulate debate, highlight emerging concerns, and propose alternative policy options. Recent issues have addressed legal and policy issues associated with end-of-life care; technology and aging; income security among older populations of color; Medicare reform; and elder abuse and neglect. The audience consists of decision-makers in the public and private sectors, advisors and staff to those decision-makers, program administrators, researchers, students, and the interested public. Articles in each issue are informed, to the point, and provocative. Authors are drawn from the leadership ranks of the policy, practice, and research communities. In the Public Policy & Aging Report, these authors are afforded the opportunity to engage readers in a more timely and pressing manner than is afforded through most other publication formats. Each issue contains an article in the Editor's Choice series, representing a paper that the editor sees as providing an especially significant contribution to the field of gerontology. These articles are available free to non-subscribers.

Public Policy and Aging E-Newsletter

This bimonthly e-newsletter highlights key developments and viewpoints in the field of aging policy from a wide variety of sources, including articles and reports circulating in the media, academy, think tanks, private sector, government and nonprofit organizations. The goal of this publication is to reach teachers, students, and citizens interested in aging-related issues, especially those who may not have easy access to policy information disseminated both in Washington and around the country. The Public Policy & Aging E-Newsletter is a free bimonthly email publication. If you would like to subscribe, please use the form below:

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