Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
I am writing you about The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017. This bill is a dangerous bill for Americans who experience hearing loss. First, hearing loss is not the same for everyone, and cannot be easily made with simple standard such as reading glasses available in pharmacies. Reading glasses simply magnify what's before the person. In theory, OTC hearing aids would simply amplify sound. However there are a variety of aspects in regard to hearing loss including but not limited to tone, loudness, and frequency. It also does not consider the environment one may be, which may require varying needs from person to person. So when an individual obtains an OTC hearing aid they may not be compatible for this individual and would lead to more frustration and wasted dollars. This bill would open up many issues once people purchase OTC hearing aids because they will be led to believe their hearing loss will be fixed. Oftentimes individuals who purchase a hearing aid today require adjustments to compliment their specific hearing loss, even if the hearing aid is supposed to match their audiogram. However the audiogram doesn't tell us everything. Each individual is unique and their hearing loss is complex. OTC hearing aids would not allow for those adjustments to be made. If the goal is to make hearing aids more affordable, they're not going to spend extra money to visit a hearing professional or audiologist for such adjustments, or they may not even be aware that would be a viable option due to lack of information. The focus of the problem in helping more individuals who experience hearing loss to afford hearing aids should be on requiring insurance to pay for these hearing aids so they can receive quality care to ensure the hearing aid(s) are fit for their hearing levels and it's complexities. This bill specifically focuses on adults only. However, we all know that people have purchased goods including medications for people other than themselves including children. This would lead to language access issues. If someone has access to "affordable" hearing aids at their local pharmacy, who's going to say they can't buy it for their child if nobody knows. Then the child obtains and wears them but they are not a good fit for the child which leads to lack of access to sounds, lack of access to language. This would be a dangerous and slippery slope if this bill is passed. As a hearing aid wearer, I oppose this bill, and urge you to oppose this bill and focus on getting hearing aids as a required coverage with insurance providers, to ensure all individuals receive all of the information and customization they need in order to live well with hearing loss.