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Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Bills – Call to Action!!

An update on the progress of the OTC Hearing Aid bills has been received from Lise Hamlin at the HLAA National office and again we are asking you to respond to a Call to Action.

In the House:
1.The House Energy and Commerce committee voted 54-0 to approve a comprehensive FDA bill that includes OTC hearing aids.
2.The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives, which is expected to take it up in the next few weeks.
3.Rep Dingell is on the House Energy and Commerce committee and was vocal in her support during the subcommittee hearing.  She signed on as a co-sponsor.  If you live in her district, will you please write her a letter thanking her for supporting the bill.

Rep Debbie Dingell
Legislative Director: Greg Sunstrum – Greg.Sunstrum@mail.house.gov

When sending to representatives in Congress address the bill as:

“Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act amendment to the FDA User Fee Bill (HR 1652)”

In the Senate:
1.The full Senate will be taking up the bill in the near future as well.  It would be helpful for letters to be sent to your senators asking them to support the bill.

When sending to senators in Congress address the bill as:

“Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act amendment to the FDA User Fee Bill (S 670)”

Lise H from HLAA provided the following information for the following two senators:

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Legislative Director: Emily Carwell – Emily_Carwell@Stabenow.Senate.gov
(It is Emily-underscore-Carwell – hard to see with the whole address underlined

Senator Gary Peters
Legislative Director: David Weinberg – David_Weinberg@Peters.Senate.gov

Below is the letter I sent to Senators Stabenow and Peters earlier this week.  I plan to change the bill number and send it to Rep Bishop.  Please feel free to copy it, adapt it to yourself and send it off.

If you are uncertain who your senators and representative in Congress are, go to your web site:  http://www.hearingloss-mi.org/advocacy/

If you have questions or need help with your letter, please contact me, Ann Liming.  Please, please respond to this Call to Action.

Ann Liming, for Advocacy Committee

Letter:

Dear Senator ______,

I am a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and serve as chair of the advocacy committee for HLAA, Michigan State Association.  I also co-lead the HLAA Lansing Chapter.  I support HR 1652, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act amendment to the FDA User Fee Bill (S 670).

The most frequent request members of HLAA receive, at the national and state levels and through our local chapters, is for resources to help people afford hearing aids. Currently, less than 20% of 38 million people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them and this is largely due to the high cost of two aids.  The passage of HR 1652 would make certain types of hearing aids available over-the-counter for adults over the age of 18 who have mild to moderate hearing loss.  The bill would allow users to customize their own aids and provides for performance standards that relate to labelling and output (loudness) limits.

HR 1652 is the outcome of recommendations from both the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (October 2015) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (June 2016).  Both of these bodies of investigation and research found little or no evidence to support claims being made by opponents to this bill.  Currently, adults over 18 with mild to moderate hearing loss are not seeking hearing health care for their suspected hearing loss.  If this bill does not pass, this fact will not change and could lead people to purchase one of the many PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Devices) on the market today that are unregulated and have been proven to be of little benefit to users.  It puts older Americans at risk for social isolation, dementia and falls and increases the likelihood for increased hospitalization.  The risk of non-treatment could be greater than the risk of self-treatment.

Many of today’s adults, including those in their 60s, 70s and even 80s, are technologically savvy and thus capable of using this new category of hearing aids.  For several years people with moderate to profound hearing loss have been using apps on smart phones to adapt the programming in their aids to various environments. People who could benefit from OTC hearing aids will be the biggest losers should this bill fail.  On behalf of Michigan citizens, I am requesting that you support the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid amendment to the FDA User Fee Bill (S 670).

Respectfully,

Your Name
Your Address
Your Email

Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce committee voted 54-0 to approve a comprehensive FDA bill that includes Over the Counter hearing aids.   The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives, which is expected to take it up in the next few weeks. This was a big win – and we had some moments of drama where it looked like one Rep wanted to make changes that were not going to fly. But that didn’t happen and we have a win here. That’s the good news!

The not as good news (not bad, really) is that we still have a couple of weeks before this goes to the floor on both the House and Senate side. We watched yesterday as Rep Upton voted to pass the OTC bill as an amendment to the FDA bill. But he is still on the fence and could use some encouragement. I’d like to ask you to send letters again, thanking him for his support and encouraging him to continue to support the bill as it heads to the floor.

Also, Rep Dingle is on the committee and was vocal in her support during the subcommittee hearing, and she signed on as a co-sponsor. She should get letters thanking her for her strong support.

On the Senate side, we haven’t heard any news about your representatives, but it wouldn’t hurt to send letters to them as well.

Email for House:

Rep Fred Upton
Legislative Director (LD): Mark Ratner (same as before) Mark.Ratner@mail.house.gov

Rep Debbie Dingle
LD: Greg Sunstrum Greg.Sunstrum@mail.house.gov

Rep Debbie Dingle
LD: Greg Sunstrum Greg.Sunstrum@mail.house.gov

LD David Weinberg  David_Weinberg@Peters.Senate.gov

Thank you for all you are doing!

Best,
Lise

Lise Hamlin
Director of Public Policy
Hearing Loss Association of America
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200
Bethesda, MD 20814
301-657-2248

www.hearingloss.org