Can you hear me now?

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Washington, August 18, 2017 | comments

Many of you reading this may not have been able to hear reports of the good work Congress has been doing for you this year. That may be because the mainstream media refuses to report it. For many of you, however, it is because you are one of the roughly 48 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss and choose to forego corrective devises due to costs or some other reason. Well, I hope you hear this: The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which I authored along with Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, just became law.

As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee I have worked to help lower drug costs and bring new treatments and innovative medical devices to patients everywhere. When we thoughtfully leverage competition and innovation in health care, patients benefit. Those suffering from hearing loss should be no exception. Critical technological advances like those that would allow a user to tune hearing aids through their smartphone, for example, are being hamstrung by outdated laws. Our bill harnesses new technology that can create opportunities for consumers to purchase safe and effective over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, redefines how people view and live with hearing loss, while reducing costs and improving access to these devices.

The House and Senate passed this measure recently as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. And on Friday, the President signed this landmark bill into law. For so many, this measure will finally make hearing correction affordable and within reach – with the latest technology, competitive prices, and a short trip to your local pharmacy or shopping center.

This bill addresses a problem that does not discriminate. At older ages, hearing loss becomes almost universal, affecting more than 60 percent of those in their 70s and nearly 80 percent of those over 80. Making hearing aids more accessible and affordable is a commonsense solution to a widespread problem. I am very pleased we had a bipartisan effort in Congress to make this solution a reality for you, and even more pleased to see it become law.

As countless families know, losing your hearing can be a slow and painful process, both physically and emotionally. This law will bring relief for the millions of Americans struggling with hearing loss and greatly reduce the steep costs associated with it.

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