Dear FLAA Members,
There have been several articles and postings related to HB 957 and SB 700 over the last two months as these pieces of legislation have garnered national attention in the audiology community. As members of FLAA, we felt it was important to share some details that may help clarify and/or put into perspective some of the items you may have been reading.
The Amendment to Senate Bill 700 sought to change practice statutes by allowing a patient of any age to waive any/all parts of a hearing evaluation prior to purchasing a prescribed hearing aid (not an OTC hearing aid, which technically doesn’t exist yet, and not a PSAP), eliminating the requirement for an audiologist to conduct a fitting or verification of a prescribed hearing aid, and allowing for mail order hearing aids.
The Amendment was a cut and paste of House Bill 957. HB 957 was brought forth by a for-profit company that sells hearing aids online. The proponents of the bill did not consult with impacted stakeholders (hearing professional groups nor consumer groups in Florida) prior to filing the bill.
FLAA has been in negotiations with the proponents of the Amendment since it was filed. Those negotiations led to an age requirement being added (as an amendment to the amendment) in an effort to protect children. While FLAA is not at liberty to share all discussions, we can tell you that we have attempted to use this situation as an opportunity to update our practice statutes. Unfortunately, agreeable language was not settled upon and ultimately the language was deleted from SB 700. HB 957 still exists with stripped down language that is still in negotiations as of this writing.
FLAA has every intention of creating a Task Force to review and update the audiology practice statutes. We agree that the time has come for change. However, changing of practice statutes should not be based solely on any one entity’s desire, especially when that entity is a for-profit company who has great interest in its own success (as would any company). FLAA wants to preserve quality care and safety for hearing impaired residents while embracing technological innovation.
FLAA is pro-telehealth, pro-innovation, and pro-best practices. We strive to represent the audiologists of Florida and look forward to having more audiologists join the organization so that issues such as practice statute changes can be made with broader input.
Should you have any questions about the legislation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support of our organization and for the overwhelming response when calls-to-action have been sent. We look forward to see you all at convention whether in-person or virtually!
Julia P. Andrews, Au.D.
FLAA VP of Professional Affairs