April 20, 2018

Can you hear me now? PLF’s Challenge to Florida’s Outdated Hearing Aid Licensing Laws

By Timothy R. Snowball Attorney

The story of America is in part the story of entrepreneurs. Men and women doing their best to make an honest living while providing valuable goods and services. The result has been innovation and ever-improving products and services. Unless, of course, the government gets in the way.

Such is the case in Florida.

Florida requires that people wanting to sell hearing aids go through an onerous and expensive licensing process. Once licensed, they have to run every customer through time-consuming and antiquated hearing tests—tests that may have been state of the art in the 1970s, but are in many cases unnecessary today.

Much like other technology, hearing aids have changed since the 1970s. Rather than make an appointment and see an audiologist for a customized fitting and complex tuning, modern aids can be ordered with the click of a computer mouse and calibrated using any common computers and smartphones. Rules like Florida’s hearing aid licensing regime serve only to protect those who already hold licenses, making hearing aids less accessible and affordable for consumers.

But besides these detrimental effects, Florida’s hearing aid rules are at odds with federal law. Congress has enacted laws providing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with authority over medical devices, including hearing aids. The FDA has issued regulations governing the sale of hearing aids, including who may purchase them and what conditions are imposed on dispensers who sell them. These regulations not only do not require those wishing to sell hearing aids to the public to have a license, but expressly prohibit any state based requirements that are “different from, or in addition to” the federal rules.

Dan Taylor has dedicated his career to helping the public hear better. His goal is and has always been to provide the best possible care to the public at the most affordable price. Dan, and all other unlicensed sellers of hearing aids in Florida, must jump through onerous bureaucratic hoops in order to provide these much needed aids to the public.

Represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, Dan is challenging Florida’s out of date, protectionist, and preempted hearing aid regulations in federal court. He is not seeking money, just a declaration that the state’s rules contradict federal regulations governing the sale of hearing aids and violate his right to earn an honest living free of unreasonable regulation.

Hearing loss affects tens of millions of Americans across the country. A victory in this case will be a victory for all entrepreneurs, consumers, and mean better hearing care for all. Dan Taylor just wants to help the public hear better. If the Florida government will just get out of his way.

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Taylor v. Polhill, et al

In Florida, you need a license to sell hearing aids. Dan Taylor of Melbourne, Florida, gave up his license after 30 years, because Florida’s outdated regulations were made for older models, not the updated, technologically sophisticated models he and his customers prefer. In a federal lawsuit on behalf of Dan, PLF argues that Florida’s licensing scheme increases cost and reduces access to modern hearing aids—and they’re even preempted by federal laws aimed at reducing unnecessary regulation.

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