Many people with hearing loss, and many professionals involved in hearing health care, either support or disagree with the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act currently being considered by Congress. Their reasons have to do with their view of what’s best for people with hearing loss.
I’m a strong supporter, as readers know. I don’t think Medicare coverage will ever happen unless hearing aid prices down come down. I also realize that while Medicare may not cover OTC hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss, it might recognize more serious hearing loss requiring expensive hearing devices as the legitimate medical condition that it is. So those of us who have to pay $3000-$4000 for adequate hearing aids may at last get some relief from Medicare. (Cheaper hearing aids may also get Medicare coverage, of course.)
I also believe that OTC hearing aids will be a gateway device for that 85 percent of people with hearing loss who do not now treat their loss. Competition will help bring costs down. More widespread use will help reduce stigma.
And so does the gun lobby.
Yes, you read that correctly. Hearing Health and Technology Matters has been following the opposition. The Gun Owners of America oppose the bill, HHTM reports. So does Frontiers of Freedom, a non-profit conservative group based in Washington, DC. The opposition seems to stem primarily from the fact that one of the sponsors of the nonpartisan bill is Elizabeth Warren. The gun lobby says it fears it will restrict gun-owners’ rights.
Some Republican Congress members have resisted the conservative onslaught and recognize the value of the bill to their constituents. One of these is Congressman Vern Buchanan, who has represented Florida’s 16th district since 2013, a district that holds the fourth-highest population of seniors aged 65 and older of any congressional district in the US.: You can read HHTM’s article here: Florida Congressman the Latest to Co-Sponsor OTC Legislation, Despite Negative Ad Campaign Targeting GOP Supporters.
Republican co-sponsor of the bill, Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, tried to allay gun owners’ fears, stating that “The Food and Drug Administration has made clear the bill wouldn’t compromise personal sound amplifiers that hunters use. However, language will be drafted to make clear that such devices are not affected just to be safe.”
So tell the gun lobby to mind its own business. The hearing health of millions of Americans is not part of it.
** For more on hearing health and hearing loss see “Shouting Won’t Help: Why I and 50 Million Other Americans Can’t Hear You.” and “Living Better With Hearing Loss,” both available on Amazon.com.