Update: over-the-counter hearing aid legislation in the United States


The US Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act of 2017 (Text S.9) has been introduced to Congress and may ultimately lead to important changes in the way hearing loss is managed in the United States.

The bill, introduced by Senators Warren (Democrat-Massachusetts) and Grassley (Republican-Iowa), has been read in Congress and has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The legislation would mean that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could allow people to buy over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids if they have mild to moderate hearing loss.

Like other OTC models, the bill would enable patients to self-diagnose both the cause and degree of their hearing impairment and to buy hearing aids without advice and assistance from a professional. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the bill mirrors recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences to provide consumers who have mild to moderate hearing loss with greater choice and access to hearing aids and services.

The ASHA has stated that it opposes S.9 and believes that current federal and state requirements that impose professional involvement are important safeguards for the consumer. The association also believes that the proper diagnosis, fitting, and follow-up necessary to manage an individual’s hearing health care require the expertise of professionals to determine the nature and severity of the condition and to provide subsequent services such as adjustment of the hearing aid and regular check-ups.

Source: Congress.gov – Legislation; ASHA.