Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200 #00089

Submission Number:
David Bergeron
Hearing Partnership LLC
Initiative Name:
Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
We are an independent hearing instrument practice with a board certified hearing instrument specialist. We see patients from ages 18 to seniors with hearing losses ranging from mild to severe and profound. We find that patients with mild hearing loss often need a great amount of professional guidance, instrument troubleshooting and counseling in order to successfully adopt hearing aid use. Most elderly patients require a great amount of professional intervention to succeed in adopting hearing aids. It usually takes a community of patient, family members, and the informed guidance of a hearing care professional to successfully treat hearing loss. Many of our patients with mild hearing losses need aural rehabilitation counseling and training in communication strategies to actually obtain the benefit of their amplification. An over the counter device delivery model simply cannot provide the range of treatment services that is typically necessary. For example, we see veterans in our practice who got their hearing aids free from the VA, but they had stopped using their hearing aids. They thought their hearing aids just didn't work, but all they needed was professional guidance and instrument services. The cost of obtaining their free hearing aids had nothing to do with their success in adopting their actual use. Our full position statement on the importance of hearing care professional services is attached and also found at http://hearingpartnership.org/news. Hearing health care, hearing aids and the professional services patients require to be successful in treatment of hearing loss should be covered by health insurance. OTC hearing aids simply miss the mark. Finally, every professional has stories about people they have seen with complaints of hearing loss that needed referral for medical evaluation and treatment. Occasionally patients present with medical issues they do not realize may be very serious, and we help make appointments for them to be seen on the same day by a qualified physician. The OTC approach will benefit consumer electronic manufacturers and those organizations with a financial stake in OTC hearing aid promotion and sales. Unfortunately, there are 'consumer' organizations out there that claim to represent the hard of hearing, but they have no members with mild to moderate hearing losses. Such groups do not understand the hearing care needs of people with mild hearing loss! Please see our attached statement for a description of our evidence supporting our position. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.