Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan to McConnell: Pass Hearing Aids Bill

Jul 25, 2017
Press Release
Urges Swift Senate Action BEFORE August Recess

Hearing Loss Affects 1 in 5 Americans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take action before the August recess and approve House-passed legislation making hearing aids more affordable. 

In a letter sent to McConnell today, Buchanan said the legislation could have a big impact on the lives of millions of Americans, especially senior citizens. 

Buchanan is a co-sponsor of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, a bipartisan bill that would drive down costs by allowing people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase aids without a doctor’s prescription. The legislation was included in the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 which passed the House earlier this month.

Regardless of what action the Senate takes this week on replacing the Affordable Care Act, Buchanan said the hearing aid bill is one specific measure that could immediately benefit people, citing studies that show one in five Americans suffer from hearing loss. McConnell has indicated that he will keep the Senate in session for the first two weeks of August to deal with confirmations and other priorities. 

“Let’s help reopen the world to seniors who struggle to hear everyday conversations with their family and friends,” Buchanan wrote. “Before the Senate adjourns for its summer recess, I urge you to pass bipartisan legislation that will make hearing aids more affordable for our nation’s seniors.”

Sadly, an estimated 86 percent of people who would benefit from hearing aids do not get them, primarily because of high cost. The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act could bring the cost of a pair of hearing aids down from several thousand dollars to only a few hundred dollars, according to the New York Times.

Buchanan’s letter comes on the heels of a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine revealing that hearing aids purchased over the counter perform essentially the same as prescription hearing aids. 

Text of the letter can be found below.

July 25, 2017

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
S-230, the Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader McConnell:

Before the Senate adjourns for its August recess, I urge you to approve House-passed legislation to make hearing aids more affordable for millions of Americans.

Nearly 50 million people have some degree of hearing loss – more than diabetes, cancer or vision impairment. The impact of hearing loss, particularly among seniors, can lead to isolation and other health problems including anxiety and depression. 

Buying a hearing aid is a complex and costly process. In most cases, consumers can only buy hearing aids from audiologists or licensed hearing aid sellers after a formal medical evaluation. Because the aids are not covered by Medicare or most private insurance plans, out-of-pocket costs for a pair of hearing aids average $5,400.

The U.S. House recently passed legislation I co-sponsored to reduce the cost of hearing aids by allowing people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase devices without a doctor’s prescription. The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which was included in the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, could lower the cost of a pair of hearing aids from several thousand dollars to only a few hundred dollars, according to the New York Times.

Moreover, in a study published earlier this month, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that hearing aids purchased over the counter perform essentially the same as prescription hearing aids.

Let’s help reopen the world to seniors and others who struggle to hear everyday conversations with their family and friends. Washington dysfunction must not get in the way of passing this life-improving proposal. I urge swift Senate approval of this important legislation. 


Sincerely,

  

Vern Buchanan
Member of Congress

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