WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley welcomes the signing of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act into law. Grassley was the lead co-sponsor of the bipartisan measure, which will make certain types of hearing aids available over the counter to Americans with mild to moderate hearing impairment.
“I’ve heard from Iowans and others around the country in support of this provision,” Grassley said. “Consumers are interested in new hearing aid products to improve their quality of life at an affordable price. The more products available, the more consumers will be able to find something they can afford that works for them.”
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act became law as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act. The bicameral measure requires the FDA to write regulations ensuring that the new category of over-the-counter hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as all medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 received endorsements from leading organizations representing seniors, consumers and hearing health professionals, including the AARP, the Gerontological Society of America, the Hearing Loss Association of America, Consumers Union, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the American Federation of Teachers, the Consumer Technology Association, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, the Niskanen Institute, the R St. Institute, and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology.
Approximately 48 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss, including two-thirds of adults between the ages of 70 to 79, yet only a small share of Americans with hearing loss -- around 14 percent -- use hearing aids, primarily due to the products’ high cost. Hearing aids are not covered by Medicare or most private insurance plans, and out-of-pocket costs for a single hearing aid average $2,400, far out of reach for many consumers.