- Published on 26 June 2017
As the vote on the US Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 draws near, positions are beginning to crystallize. The HLAA has announced its full support for the bill and has issued an Action Alert to encourage consumers to urge their representatives to vote for the new legislation, reports Business Wire.
The bipartisan democrat-republican legislation introduced in late March by Senators Grassley (R-Iowa) and Warren (D-Mass.) and by Congressmen Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Kennedy (D-Mass.), will create a new category of hearing aids to be sold directly to the public. The debate on the legislation has been raging in recent months.
The HLAA believes the act is important to consumers for many reasons. First, the organization cites the argument that among the 30 million Americans who could benefit from hearing aids, only about 14% use them. It says that the main obstacle is the high cost. Second, the top six hearing aid manufacturers concentrate 98% of the market.
In addition, greater innovation is changing the hearing healthcare sector and may help to lower prices (blocked by the current structure) and may help to create more variety and better products. The organization also believes that the country’s 20,000 hearing aid dispensing professionals cannot cover all the needs.
HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley is cited as saying, “This is just one piece of the big picture to make hearing aids more affordable. HLAA has advocated – as have many other organizations – for Medicare and insurance coverage for many years, with little progress and little hope that it will become a reality anytime soon. However, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act may be a viable alternative for people who want to do something about their hearing loss but who can’t afford to.”
Source: Business Wire