On March 27th, a hearing was held on legislation related to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health benefits, including H.R. 3508. This legislation would recognize hearing aid specialists for appointment to the VA to independently provide hearing aid evaluations, fittings and orientation, verification and clinical outcomes measurements, and customary after care services. ASHA submitted a statement for the record in opposition to the legislation. The VA Deputy under Secretary for Health Policy and Services testified in opposition to the bill, stating that the Secretary of the VA already has the authority to hire hearing aid specialists.

In its testimony, the VA stated that the lack of standardized educational and professional health licensure requirements of hearing aid specialists could fragment hearing health care services and limit delivery of comprehensive hearing health care services because Veterans frequently exhibit hearing loss in combination with other comorbidities.

The legislation is being championed by the International Hearing Society and has the support of several veteran groups who wrote in support of passing the legislation. Congressional inquiry at the hearing expressed concern with long wait times for both hearing health services and repair of devices given that tinnitus and hearing loss are the top service-related disabilities for veterans. Because of the interest and concerns expressed by members of Congress related to timely access to hearing health services, there is a possibility that H.R. 3508 may be included in a larger VA health bill later this year.

Tell your Representative not to cosponsor this legislation. The legislation is redundant, unnecessary, and will not address issues associated with long wait times for hearing aids and hearing health care services.

For additional information, contact Ingrida Lusis, ASHA’s director of federal and political advocacy, at ilusis@asha.org.

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