WASHINGTON, D.C. – Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is working to ensure certain types of hearing aids are available over the counter.
“Consider that about 40 percent of Americans age 60 and older live with hearing loss,” said Senator Grassley. “And yet, of those, less than 20 percent use a hearing aid. Why would millions of American adults with impaired hearing avoid assistive medical technology?”
Last week, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Grassley (R-Iowa) applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement that it will take steps to improve consumer access to hearing aids, including by not enforcing the requirement for a medical evaluation or waiver in order to acquire hearing aids. Earlier this month, Warren and Grassley introduced the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016, which would make certain types of hearing aids available over the counter (OTC) and remove unnecessary and burdensome requirements that would pose barriers for consumers who could benefit from hearing aids.
“I’m very glad to see the FDA recognize that over-the-counter hearing aids can improve access to millions of Americans with untreated hearing loss,” said Senator Warren. “This announcement by the FDA will implement one of the provisions in the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016, which I introduced with Senator Grassley earlier this Congress. Our bill will make additional simple changes to help adults with hearing loss get access to hearing aids and make it easier for consumers to shop for the best value.”
“This is a very good first step,” Senator Grassley said. “The FDA is right to help consumers take advantage of innovative products. Making certain hearing aids are available over the counter is meant to increase competition and help bring down costs. The agency move clears a hurdle that people now face in getting hearing aids. It reflects one of the provisions of our legislation. Still, even with this positive step, introducing our legislation in the next Congress will be important. Administrations shift and legal challenges occur. Getting the law on the books would ensure that those who could benefit from over-the-counter hearing aids would have certainty going forward.”