Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200 #00098

Submission Number:
Ann Miller
Initiative Name:
Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
Re: The Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 I am beginning grad school for my A.uD. in just a couple of months. I am deeply committed to helping people. I desperately want hearing aids to be affordable for folks, and the path to that is having them covered by insurance--not providing them over the counter without any follow through. I have been volunteering with hard of hearing adults for the past 6 months and in that time I have seen how important it is for people to have a thorough, thoughtful, and skilled hearing professional. With follow-up, counseling, and support, people are better able to have favorable outcomes with their hearing aids. ASHA, which is against OTC hearing aids, recently published a study on hearing aid outcomes in older adults. ttp://academy.pubs.asha.org/2017/03/study-of-hearing-aid-outcomes-in-older-adults/) Specifically, "the OTC group fared somewhat worse when it came to satisfaction with their hearing aids." Having someone do a test online and try to program their own hearing aid scares me. Sure, you might be someone with a mild hearing loss that could be helped with this--or you could have a simple issue of impacted ear wax that will be made worse by putting these OTC hearing aids in. What if you have a tumor on your auditory nerve? You can't give yourself the other standard tests that are performed by Audiologists or Hearing Specialists that would catch other issues. Let's also keep in mind that by the time someone does something about their hearing loss, they could already be past a mild loss. These OTC hearing aids won't have ear molds, which can greatly improve both comfort and clarity. People who are hard of hearing complain most of the lack of clarity-something that simply amplification can't fix alone. Going back for adjustments is key in improving clarity and tweaking compression and amplification. Also, who is to say that a parent won't use these OTC hearing aids on their children? This can lead to damaging their hearing. I want our representatives to fight for insurance coverage, not this band aid of OTC hearing aids. If this passes, why would insurance companies even think to be persuaded to cover hearing aids? And if there is a test online, why would they continue to cover hearing tests for adults? This country already treats those who are deaf or hard of hearing like 2nd class citizens. This band-aid that can only help a very small portion of people is not the way forward in order to ensure a healthy, happy, and connected population.