Hearing aids have been taking Washington DC by storm of late. First was the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report entitled “Aging America & Hearing Loss: Imperative of Improved Technologies” in 2015, followed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report “Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability” last summer.
Both recommended a new category of hearing aids — one that could be sold over-the-counter (OTC) similar to how people buy aspirin or reading glasses. And just a few months ago, a bipartisan bill that authorizes a new category of OTC hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing was introduced in Congress.
The idea has been quite controversial, with proponents favoring the improved ease of access for these important devices and detractors worried that audiologists would be cut out of the process, increasing the risk that the aids would be used improperly or even dangerously.