Illinois Legislative Update
SB 1721 takes effect on January 1, 2024. This legislation requires that all licensed hearing instrument dispensers have one hour of Implicit Bias Awareness training and one hour of Sexual Harassment Prevention training in each two-year renewal cycle (SB 1721). The Illinois Hearing Society has arranged for all our members to receive these continuing education credits through the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) at no cost. IDHR has a video recording of the Sexual Harassment Prevention training available for you to take at your convenience at the link below. Upon completion of the Sexual Harassment Prevention training, you must take a quiz. Learn more here.
SB 767 (Fine/Manley) amends the Hearing Instrument Consumer Protection Act to reinsert the return privilege. SB 767 passed both houses during Veto Session. Earlier this Spring, the General Assembly had passed a Hearing Instrument bill (SB 1721 – see below) that had inadvertently deleted the 30-day return privilege starting on 1/1/24. SB 767 reinserts this privilege. One of our Board members also asked that SB 767 define what constitutes a business day. Both votes were unanimous 58-0 in the Senate and 114-0 in the House.
The final language states that all hearing instruments offered for sale must be accompanied by a 30-business day return privilege. If there is a nonrefundable dispensing fee or restocking fee the terms of this fee must be clearly stated on the receipt or contract provided to the consumer. A business day means any day except Saturday, Sunday, or a federal holiday. The language in the bill has an immediate effective date.
SB 767 will be sent to the Governor for his approval in the next 30 days. Once on his desk, the Governor will have 60 days to act on it; however, since SB 1721 is effective on January 1, 2024, he will more than likely act prior to 1/1/24 so the consumer protection language is intact come the new year.
The General Assembly will return into session on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.
SB 1721 (Fine/Manley) brings Illinois into compliance with federal over the counter hearing aid guidance. This is an agreement between the Illinois Hearing Society and the Audiologists Association. SB 1721 passed the Senate unanimously on March 29, prior to being amended. It passed the House unanimously, as amended, on May 9 and the Senate concurred unanimously on May 19. Gov. Pritzker signed the bill into law on August 4.
HB 2443 (Chung/Koehler) amends the Illinois Insurance Code to provide that an individual or group policy of accident and health insurance or managed care plan provided after the amendatory Act’s effective date must provide coverage for medically necessary hearing instruments and related services for all individuals, rather than just those under age 18, when a hearing care professional prescribes a hearing instrument to augment communication. HB 2443 passed the House by a vote of 83-25-0 on March 23, prior to being amended. It passed the Senate unanimously, as amended, on May 10 and the House concurred by a vote of 86-27-0 on May 17. Gov. Pritzker signed the bill into law on August 11.
OTC Hearing Aid Rules Released
On Tuesday, August 16, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its [final rule] regarding over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. The move will allow those with mild to moderate hearing loss to directly purchase hearing aids from retailers. After considering over 1,000 responses during the public comment period, the FDA decided to make changes to the original October 20, 2021, proposed rule, some of which aligned with Illinois & International's recommendations. See Illinois' Jan 16th Letter to the FDA [here].
The final rule also includes performance specifications and device design requirements specific to OTC hearing aids. The effective date for the final rule is 60 days after the publication in the Federal Register, with FDA reporting it expects OTC hearing aids to be available as soon as mid-October. You may find more information on this topic on the International Hearing Society's Advocacy Page [here].