medicaidCHICAGO – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule to improve access to hearing aids Tuesday, and State Senator Robert Peters is celebrating the decision that will benefit millions of Americans.

About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

“I was born hard of hearing, and though I regained my hearing as a child through surgery, I am a strong advocate for increased access to hearing aids,” said Peters (D-Chicago). “Over the counter hearing aids will take a huge burden off the lives of millions of Illinoisans and eliminate communication barriers for so many Americans as a whole.”

The FDA’s ruling establishes a new category of over the counter hearing aids, enabling consumers with perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment to purchase hearing aids directly from stores or online retailers without the need for a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist.

This action is expected to lower the cost of hearings aids, furthering national plans of expanding access to high-quality health care and lowering health care costs. The ruling also intends to ensure the safety and effectiveness of OTC hearing aids, while fostering innovation and competition in the hearing aid technology marketplace.

“There are many people living with hearing loss that don’t have hearing aids simply because of the cost,” Peters said. “I am excited that this initiative will not only make hearing aids more accessible but more affordable as well. Our job is to make life more accessible for all people and this ruling helps make that a reality.”

This ruling is expected to lower the price of a pair of hearing aids by $3,000. OTC hearing aids can be seen in stores as early as October.

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