NEW YORK STATE HEARING AID DISPENSING ADVISORY BOARD
October 10, 2012
The meeting was held at the Department of State, 99 Washington Avenue, Room 505, Albany, NY.
I. INTRODUCTIONS, ROLL CALL AND QUORUM ANNOUNCEMENT
The meeting was called to order at 10:35 a.m. K. Simon took roll call and declared there was not a quorum present. The official attendance was as follows:
Ana Hae-Ok Kim
David A. Beaulac
EX-OFFICIO BOARD MEMBERS
Keith Simon, representing Cesar Perales, Secretary of State, Board Chair
James Hinds, representing John B. King, Commissioner, NYS Education Dept.
Jonathan Curtin, representing Nirav R. Shaf, Commissioner, NYS Department of Health
Representative, Eric T. Schneiderman, NYS Attorney General
DEPARTMENT OF STATE STAFF
Marcos Vigil, Deputy Secretary of State for Business and Licensing
Kathleen M. McCoy, Director, Div. of Licensing Services
Whitney Clark, Counsel
Melanie Grossman, Outreach Coordinator, Division of Consumer Protection
John Goldman, License Investigator III
Mary Jo Moore, Application Processing & Customer Service
Amy Penzabene, Systems Coordinator/Administrative Liaison
Marc Mastrobuono, Education Bureau
Carol Fansler, Board Coordination
Fred Goossen, Hearing Health Care Alliance of NY (HHCANY)/International Hearing Society (IHS)
Barbara Ahern, HHCANY
Marcy Savage, NYS Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NYSSLHA)
II. OVERVIEW OF MEETING AGENDA AND PROTOCOL
K. Simon reminded everyone about the use of the microphones for the special hearing aid equipment, and reminded visitors they can only speak during the public comment period.
III. SUBCOMMITTEE AND DEPARTMENT REPORTS
J. Goldman presented an enforcement update. He followed up on complaints mentioned at the last board meeting, and shared that one case involving the sale of hearing aids via the internet is still in the investigatory stage. He also talked about a case where a hearing aid dispenser was sending mail to consumers that appeared to look like tax papers from the IRS, so as not to look like junk mail. Charges include misleading advertising, dispensers on staff not properly associated, and failure of continuing education credits. The hearing for this case is scheduled in December. Since the last board meeting, three new complaints have been filed. One alleges a local dispenser is operating unlicensed branches and utilizing unassociated dispensers; that investigation is pending a hearing date. The other two cases are still at the beginning stages. One involves the refusal of a full refund within the 45-day period. The second involves an ophthalmologist selling hearing aids out of his office.
IV. NEW BUSINESS
E. Aleo stated that he feels if members of the board cannot commit to attending board meetings, they should not be a member of the board. He also stated that he would like the vacancies on the board filled so that acquiring a quorum will not be as much of an issue. K. Simon asked members to forward information to C. Fansler for anyone who might be interested in serving on the board. Members asked if tele-conferencing was available. K. Simon stated that the Department is looking into arranging video-conferencing future meetings (while still using the assisted hearing device) from two of our other offices (Buffalo and NYC) as well as Albany. This would require members to attend at the office closest to their location.
E. Aleo next asked to have two items added to the agenda for the next meeting. First, he feels that individuals from outside NYS with five years of experience should be accepted for licensing in NYS in lieu of two years of college, and required to take only the ear mold exam. He feels NYS should be less restrictive so that more dispensers are available to service hearing aid users. A. Orsene agreed that it should be easier for out-of-state audiologists to get their hearing aid dispensing license and expressed her difficulties in getting some members of her staff fully licensed. Second, he feels that a new regulation should be implemented to allow a person licensed from another state with three or more years of experience and two years of college to be accepted for licensing in NYS and required to take only the ear mold exam. Both items will be added to the agenda for further discussion at the next board meeting.
V. PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
F. Goossen submitted to W. Clark information about the internet sale of hearing aids, including information on how other states have drafted language prohibiting internet sale. He also submitted information on the international hearing exam, which was developed by the IHS and includes what the test is, how it is developed and updated. This information includes a letter of recommendation to allow the use of this exam in lieu of the state exam.
VI. ACTION ITEMS
A. Orsene gave a summary of the subcommittee conference call regarding the internet sale of hearing aids, and how they focused on how the issue should be handled in NYS. She stated how each state handles this issue differently: ten states have language in their law prohibiting the sale of hearing aids “through direct mail order sales”; some states have issued a press release advising of the dangers and risks associated with purchasing hearing aids over the internet; Florida notified audiologists that they are in violation of state law if they take part in the internet sale of hearing aids; and, Texas wrote a cease and desist letter to a company conducting the internet sale of hearing aids advising them they were in violation of state law. NYS has similar language in their law, and it is clear that the internet sale of hearing aids is in violation of that law. W. Clark will reach out to a representative of a state networking facility through the American Academy of Audiologists to attend a future meeting to share how other states are handling this situation. A. Orsene said that NYS has some choices: issue a cease and desist letter to any company currently selling hearing aids via the internet, stating that they are in violation of state law; issue a press release advising consumers of the risks of obtaining a hearing device through this method; writing a letter to all NYS dispensers letting them know about the violation of law; and, adding more wording to the current law expanding on internet sales. W. Clark shared that the subcommittee will again meet prior to the next full board meeting to further discuss this issue.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 am.