Harmony Hearing Center

Hearing Protection Act: Update
Jan 4, 2019
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-SC, on Thursday, reintroduced a proposal to remove suppressors from National Firearms Act regulations.

“The Hearing Protection Act is a commonsense bill that is important to all sportsmen and women across the country,” said Duncan in a statement. “Personally, I have experienced hearing damage from firearm noise, and I believe easier access to suppressors may have prevented much of this damage from early on in my life.”

In addition to removing silencers and suppressors from NFA requirements that include a $200 tax stamp, the proposal would mandate the more than 1.5 million already registered be deleted from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ records within 365 days of the bill becoming law. Further, while states would not be required to allow their sale or possession, they would be barred from establishing their own potentially prohibitive taxes or registration requirements on legal devices.

In the end, suppressors would be treated as firearms – which would allow them to be transferred through any regular federal firearms license holders to anyone not prohibited from possessing them after the buyer passes an FBI instant background check.

Duncan’s original Hearing Protection Act garnered 166 co-sponsors in the House last session and was rolled into a larger package of pro-hunting legislation, the SHARE Act, which was reported out of committee but never made it out of Congress.

Meanwhile, with California Democrat Nancy Pelosi elected this week by the controlling majority as Speaker of the House, Dems are expected to bring up a host of gun control legislation this session, making the likelihood of pro-gun bills making it to successful floor votes in the chamber slim.graph here.

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When Will the Hearing Protection Act Pass?
by Guy J. Sagi - Monday, February 13, 2017
      (Still trying to remove suppressors from Tax Stamp, Latest                          revision Jan 4,2019)
The Hearing Protection Act of 2017—H.R. 367, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and John Carter (R-TX)—resurrects a 2015 proposal by then-Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon to ease suppressor ownership restrictions on law-abiding citizens.

For more than 80 years, suppressors have been exiled to a list of National Firearms Act (NFA) items created in 1934—when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the White House. Ownership of suppressors is generally legal, but qualifying to take one home requires onerous and time-consuming requirements such as, but not limited to, fingerprints, photographs, notifying your local chief law enforcement officer, a background check and a $200 tax stamp.

The Hearing Protection Act, in simplest terms, aims to eliminate the tax stamp and effectively reduce the six-to-nine-month wait—in the 42 states where ownership is legal—by requiring only a NICS background check and a 4473. The bill, as currently written, also refunds money to those who started the purchase process while legislation was pending. It sounds like an easy victory, considering the current administration, but it’s too early to put this one in the win column.

The ground game is ongoing, with the latest proposals—H.R. 367 and S.R. 59 (Sen. Mike Crapo, R-ID, co-sponsored by Jerry Moran, R-KS, and Rand Paul, R-KY)—introduced on Jan. 9, 2017. Both would remove suppressors from NFA listing, and they have garnered 97 and 7 co-sponsors, respectively.

The House version has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. Ten Republicans and 7 Democrats make up the current membership, though, it’s particularly good news when coupled with the number of sponsors and the fact the entire voting body of the House has 435 members with 240 of them Republican.

The Senate side, on the other hand, is where firearm owners are getting mixed signals about the certainty of the Hearing Protection Act passage. If enough senators decide more debate is due, they can filibuster and the only way to bring the measure to a vote is called cloture. That requires 60 of the 100 members to vote in favor of legislation being considered—not a simple 51 vote majority if anti-Second Amendment legislators mount the defense.

With a total of 52 Republicans, two independents and 46 Democrats in the U.S. Senate, there might not be enough to pull off a successful vote. Add the relatively low number of co-sponsors, and the assumption that suppressors will be removed from the NFA any time soon is premature.

Even legislation that’s overwhelmingly popular takes time given the legislative process.  After legislation is introduced, there will be hearings, mark-ups, amendments and other legislative hurdles in both the Senate and House. In the 113th Congress, for example, the average time it took from introduction to signature into law by the president was slightly more than 263 days. Many took longer.  In fact, it took more than five years to pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that prohibits reckless lawsuits against the firearms industry seeking to hold firearms and ammunition manufacturers responsible for the acts of criminals.

Then there’s availability. Suppressor companies, even the big ones, don’t have the supply chain or manufacturing capacity of big firearm firms. So, if you wait to see what happens, you’d better be resigned to wearing hearing protection for at least the next few years. This one-on-one interview with SilencerCo CEO Josh Waldron and Donald Trump, Jr. provides some eye-opening numbers and makes it obvious there is going to be a huge gap in supply if the measure passes. “It’s going to be like the run on .22LR ammunition,” he said.

So, if you’re considering buying a suppressor but are holding off until the HPA passes, my advice is to go ahead and buy it.  We all know Congress isn’t known for it’s speedy consideration of legislation, and there’s no guarantee that it will pass in the near future. The current legislation’s wording would also refund your tax-stamp money, so there may never be a better time to buy.

NRA-ILA is reminding members and enthusiasts to contact their representatives by phone, writing and e-mail to let them know they need to support the Hearing Protection Act. The Trump administration’s overwhelming support has lulled some into a false sense of victory, making action critical.

“Gun owners and sportsmen should be able to enjoy their outdoor heritage with the tools necessary to do so safely,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox said. “This bill makes it easier for them to do that.”Type your paragraph here.

H.R. 2430 (115th):

FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017

Although health care is one of the most partisan political subjects, a new health care law was just signed with almost unanimous support. The FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 aims to lower prescription drug prices, amid skyrocketing health insurance costs.

What the law does

The law is an amalgamation of provisions from at least eight different standalone healthcare-related bills which had been introduced earlier this year from both parties. Among its most notable provisions:

Reauthorizes so-called “user fees” to the Food and Drug Administration for five years. These fees are paid for by medical drug and device manufacturers with every new product application, and will account for $8 billion over the next five years, or about a quarter of the FDA’s total budget. President Trump actually wanted the FDA funded 100 percent by user fees, as a way of keeping the agency funded while slashing the taxpayer-funded portion, but that plan was rejected by Congress for now.
Allows certain types of hearing aids to be sold over the counter. An estimated five-sixths of Americans with hearing loss don’t get hearing aids, in large part because the devices are so expensive. The provision passed over the opposition from an unlikely but powerful source: gun rights groups, which claimed the provision could allow the FDA to regulate sound amplification devices often used by hunters. (It wouldn’t.)
Requires the FDA speed up approval process for many types of generic drugs. The sped-up process would be invoked if a similar medication is being sold at an “egregious” price. That could mean huge savings for consumers and taxpayers, as generic drugs usually cost about 80 to 85 percent less than their name-brand competitors.
The Right to Try Act was separately passed by the Senate. This would allow the terminally ill to access experimental drugs and medications prior to FDA approval, a process which can normally take years. Although that’s a separate bill, Senate lead sponsor Ron Johnson (R-WI) threatened to hold up the entire FDA Reauthorization Act — which he otherwise supported and ultimately voted for — unless his own languishing Right to Try Act received a separate vote in the Senate. It passed with unanimous consent, and now awaits a vote in the House. If enacted, it would be as standalone legislation, not as a component of the FDA Reauthorization Act.

What supporters and opponents say

Supporters argue the law will lower costs and keep the FDA in line with the changing times.

The law “is ensuring that safe and effective, life-saving treatments will continue to reach American patients, from innovative new drugs, to generic drugs, biosimilars, and medical devices,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said in a statement. “The law will support our team at FDA as they carry out the HHS mission to enhance and protect the health and well-being of the American people and continue to advance medical breakthroughs.”

Only former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) voted against the bill in the Senate.

Sanders believed the legislation “does nothing to lower drug prices and is a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry,” a spokesperson told Axios. He also protested the Senate’s rejecting a provision he proposed for the bill, which would have allowed Americans to more easily purchase or obtain medications from Canada, where costs are noticeably less expensive.

The last time the reauthorization of FDA fees passed passed was in 2012, and Sanders was the only Senate opposer then too.

Votes

It passed the House on July 12 by voice vote, meaning there was no significant opposition and no record of individual votes was cast. The bill was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR2), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

It then passed the Senate on August 3 by 94–1, with the aforementioned Sen. Sanders opposing, after being introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

President Donald Trump signed the current version into law on August 18. It was introduced in the House as H.R. 2430 and the Senate as S. 934, but is now designated Public Law 115–52.

Medicare hearing aid bill reintroduced: What it means for you
​       (Still in Process, Latest revision June 14,2018)
Contributed by Lisa Packer, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
July 9, 2015

Important legislation was reintroduced in the House of Representatives that could be life-changing for some seniors in the United States.

For the second time, The Help Extend Auditory Relief Act was brought in front of Congress, and if it passes, seniors will see significant changes to their hearing coverage under Medicare. 

HEAR, if passed, could help seniors afford hearing aids.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright has reintroduced legislation that would extend Medicare coverage to hearing aids. The Help Extend Auditory Relief Act, first introduced in 2013, would also provide coverage for a “comprehensive audiology assessment” to determine whether a hearing aid is necessary and appropriate for an individual.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those 75 and older have disabling hearing loss. Medicare, the national social insurance program administered by the federal government for seniors and younger people with disabilities or certain illnesses, does not mandate coverage for hearing care or hearing aids. Hearing aids can cost anywhere from $1000 to $4000 a piece, an expense which is difficult to bear for many seniors. The result is that many of those in need of hearing aids go without.

This isn’t the bill’s first time in front of Congress, however. On September 19, 2013, Cartwright and 12 other congressmen first introduced the legislation, called HEAR for short, that would extend Medicare coverage to hearing aids. At the time, the bill, which amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act, was co-sponsored by 25 other members of congress. On September 19, 2013 it was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for markup. On September 20, it was sent to the Subcommittee on Health for review and study. Unfortunately that is as far as it got; like most bills, it failed to get traction in the House of Representatives and was considered “dead” when the 113th Congress ended its term in December 2014.

Given the relatively short two year term of Congress verses the extremely complex legislative process, it is not uncommon for legislation such as HEAR to wither before being signed into law. As a matter of fact, the majority of bills are not signed into law during their introductory term, and are then reintroduced during the following Congressional term with a new bill number.

On June 12, 2015 the HEAR Act, now known as HR 2748, was re-introduced in the House of Representatives with 12 co-sponsors. At this time it has only gotten as far in the legislative process as being referred to a committee.

The importance of the bill to America’s senior population cannot be underestimated. According to the NIDCD, fewer than 30 percent of those over the age of 70 who are in need of hearing aids actually get them. The high cost of hearing aids, which are widely uninsured, is a significant factor; hearing aids are simply not affordable for the general population.

One change that could help see the HEAR legislation enacted as law is making hearing loss part of the conversation. Historically, hearing loss is an issue that is not as widely discussed as other health issues; most people aren’t aware that hearing loss is a serious health issue. In fact, it is the most common medical condition in the United States after heart disease and diabetes. According to a survey done by the National Council on Aging, those with untreated hearing loss are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and paranoia and are less likely to participate in organized social activities compared to those who wear hearing aids. Withdrawal and isolation are common, and those with untreated hearing loss report experiencing a lower quality of life.

Perhaps helping to bring even greater awareness to the issue is the fact the latest reincarnation of HEAR has friends in high places; the bill has been endorsed by The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, the National Association of the Deaf, National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

“Today, many Medicare beneficiaries suffer isolation and severe health problems because they cannot afford to buy hearing aids which cost thousands of dollars. For that reason, the National Committee’s current Legislative Agenda includes support for Medicare coverage for hearing examinations and hearing aids,” said Max Richtman, President and chief executive operator of NCPSSM.

So what is next for HEAR? It will be referred to a House Subcommittee for further study and review. And if the 114th Congress ends without it being acted into law, most likely it will be reintroduced in the 115th Congress. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for a bill to be reintroduced in four or five subsequent Congresses before any action is taken. Though the wheels of legislation are often slow, the bill’s sponsors will continue to fight for this important issue for America’s seniors.

“This is the beginning of a national conversation about how to make hearing aids more affordable and we must continue to strengthen Medicare as seniors struggle for access to affordable healthcare,” said Rep. Cartwright.ere.