Senator Collins Cosponsors Bill to Make Hearing Aids More Accessible and Affordable

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to make certain types of hearing aids more accessible and affordable, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, cosponsored the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Approximately 30 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss, yet only about 14 percent of those with hearing loss use assistive hearing technology, often because they cannot afford costly hearing aids.

“Hearing aids allow Americans who experience hearing loss to communicate with friends, family, coworkers, and others as well as participate fully in society. I recently chaired an Aging Committee hearing on social isolation among seniors, which revealed that hearing loss, if left untreated, may contribute to loneliness, increasing the risk of serious mental and physical health outcomes.” said Senator Collins. “By making some types of hearing aids available over the counter, this commonsense legislation will help increase access to and lower the cost of these products for the consumers who need them.”

The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 would allow hearing aids that are intended to be used by adults to compensate for mild to moderate hearing impairment to be sold over the counter. The legislation would eliminate the requirement that people get a medical evaluation or sign a waiver in order to acquire these hearing aids. It also directs the FDA to issue regulations containing safety and labeling requirements for this new category of OTC hearing aids and update its draft guidance on Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs).

The bill is supported by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Consumer Technology Association, Bose, and the Gerontological Society of America.