HLAA represented consumers with hearing loss at a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop on Tuesday, April 18, titled, “Now Hear This: Competition, Innovation, & Consumer Protection Issues in Hearing Health Care.” The FTC brought together researchers, health care providers, industry representatives, consumer representatives, policymakers and others to examine ways in which enhanced competition and innovation might increase the availability and adoption of hearing aids by people who need them but aren’t currently using them.
In addition, the workshop looked at how to balance consumer health and safety issues with consumer interest in greater competition and innovation. The FTC also wants to ensure that consumers have access to truthful and non-misleading information about hearing health products and services.
HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley and Board of Trustees Member KR Liu were on the panel, “Informing Consumer Choice in Hearing Health Care.” Barbara talked about HLAA’s position on affordable and accessible health care, including our support for recent legislation that would require the FDA to create a new category of over-the-counter wearable hearing devices (learn more about our Call to Action). KR talked about her experience as a person with hearing loss who would like to see innovation and competition in the industry.
HLAA had a strong presence at the workshop. In addition to Barbara and KR, Board Members Don Doherty, Richard Einhorn and Meg Wallhagen attended, as did HLAA Director of Public Policy Lise Hamlin and HLAA Professional Advisor on Technology Linda Kozma-Spytek.
Dan Gillman, J.D., Ph.D., from the FTC Office of Policy Planning, said at the end of the day that the topics covered will part of an “ongoing inquiry.” The FTC is accepting public comments until May 18, 2017. More information about the workshop can be found on the FTC website.
HLAA’s involvement in this workshop – and any other forum where people with hearing loss are considered – is critical to our work in representing you, the consumer. Further, when we speak our voice is heard and respected. In fact, in a follow-up note to Barbara after the workshop, Dan Wood, Ph.D., an economist in the FTC's Division of Consumer Protection in the Bureau of Economics, commented:
Thank you very much for your participation in the Hearing Health workshop. We greatly appreciated your presentation and insightful comments during our consumer information panel. The discussion was enlightening, and your contribution helped greatly to further the understanding of the issues.
We realize that you have many demands on your time. Your willingness to participate in the workshop represents a significant commitment to help us better understand the competition and consumer protection issues relevant to this important topic. So, again, thank you for sharing your time, expertise, and insights with us.
You can be sure that HLAA will be there for you – people with hearing loss who need affordable and accessible hearing health care.