With a committee vote pending on the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, critics of the legislation warn the bill would increase government regulations and raise the cost of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).
A gun-owner group warned in a letter on Tuesday that language in the act could even tread into Second Amendment rights.
The legislation, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), would create a new category of hearing aids that would be available over the counter. They’re expected to be cheaper than current hearing aids. This sounds good on its face, but the concerns about the act are two-fold: it’s likely to draw people away from proper screenings with health professionals, resulting in poorer health outcomes, and it would create more regulations for PSAPs while preempting state laws.
All devices now sold as hearing aids in the United States are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and require a doctor’s prescription. Just a few companies sell them and they often cost thousands of dollars, uncovered by insurance. The barrier to entry for consumers led to the growth of PSAPs, which can’t be marketed as hearing aids but are often just as effective for those who don’t suffer severe hearing loss.
Warren’s act tasks the Department of Health and Human Services secretary with redefining PSAPs, likely shifting many of them into the newly created and more heavily regulated over-the-counter hearing aid category.