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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.

Reports

* 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 www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

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