OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5497

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE CONCERNING THE REGULATION OF HEARING INSTRUMENT SPECIALISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS.

SUMMARY:

This bill allows a licensed audiologist to fit or sell hearing aids without (1) obtaining additional licensure as a hearing instrument specialist (previously called “hearing aid dealer”) or (2) completing additional educational and training requirements. Existing law already includes the fitting or selling of hearing aids within an audiologist's scope of practice (CGS 20-395a (10)). Audiologists receive training in this function as part of their doctoral degree education and supervised postgraduate work experience.

Starting October 1, 2014, the bill requires a hearing instrument specialist to complete at least 16 hours of continuing education before the Department of Public Health (DPH) renews his or her biennial license. The continuing education must include courses offered or approved by the National Board of Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences, American Academy of Audiology, American Speech-Language Hearing Association, or any DPH-approved successor organizations. Current law does not require continuing education as a condition of licensure renewal.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012

AUDIOLOGIST REQUIREMENTS FOR FITTING AND SELLING HEARING AIDS

The bill removes the statutory requirement that an audiologist who fits or sells hearing aids:

1. obtain additional licensure as a hearing instrument specialist;

2. provide DPH with evidence showing satisfactory completion of (a) at least six semester hours of coursework in selecting and fitting hearing aids and (b) 80 hours of supervised clinical experience with children and adults in selecting and fitting hearings aids at a program accredited by American Speech Language-Hearing Association, or its successor; or

3. pass the hearing instrument specialist written licensure exam.

BACKGROUND

Hearing Instrument Specialists

A hearing instrument specialist fits and sells hearing aids to individuals in retail establishments. To become licensed, the law requires an applicant to (1) complete a four-year high school course or its equivalent; (2) complete a DPH-approved study course or period in fitting and selling hearing aids; and (3) pass a written, oral, and practical exam (CGS 20-398(a)).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Program Review and Investigations Committee

Joint Favorable Change of Reference

Yea

10

Nay

0

(03/16/2012)

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

24

Nay

0

(03/23/2012)