When I enter our office’s conference room to meet a prospective elderly client for the first time, I am not always sure where  I will be sitting.  Mainly because, if the client has a hearing deficit, I want to sit on client’s better hearing side. We have a hearing  amplification device with headphones we sometimes give the client, but the best solution to allow proper communication are properly fitted hearing aids.

There are significant barriers for seniors to receive hearing aids.  They are expensive, they are not covered by many health plans, including Medicare, are used by only a small percentage of those who need them.  New federal legislation signed into law last week aims to make the medical devices cheaper and more widely used by ensuring high-quality products are available over-the-counter and without a doctor’s involvement.

Under the law, the Food and Drug Administration must propose regulation for over-the-counter hearing aids in the next three years to make sure the products are safe and effective. The over-the-counter products are specifically for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. More than 35 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, and the numbers are only expected to grow as the U.S. population ages. The price of a hearing aid — more than $2,000 on average, with some people needing two — has long been a bone of contention.  The process of obtaining a hearing aid can also be bulky and complicated, involving trips to up to several doctors; and hearing aids can also only be bought through licensed sellers. The over-the-counter hearing aid bill was proposed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). It was signed into law as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act, which extends agreements with industry that fund regulation of drugs and medical devices and allows the agency to continue operating for the next several years.

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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