According to the article, a group of approximately 580 Texas dispensers have filed suit in Federal court seeking class status for their beef with Walmart.
Selling hearing aids in Texas, like Florida, requires either a medical license, audiology degree, or dispensing license. Their laws make it a crime to dispense, or sell hearing aids without both the appropriate state license.
Also required. is a series of professional protocols such as testing, otoscopic examination, medical history etc. None of which is present, or being done in the over the counter sales engaged in by Walmart, according to the dispenser’s suit.
“What we’re asking is nothing more than what applies to any other hearing aid dispenser in the state of Texas,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, William H. Chamblee of the law firm Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw, & Anderson in Dallas.
This suit may portend a trend, as dispensers all across the nation look more closely at the gross misapplication of their state dispensing laws that apply to them, and their practices, but totally ignored by giants like Walmart and United Healthcare’s Health Innovations.
In Florida, like Texas, selling hearing aids without a license is a crime.
In Florida, dispensing without a license is considered a third degree felony. Yet, consumers purchase hearing aids through online sales everyday.
Even insurance giant Unitedhealthcare’s Health Innovations, as the solely authorized provider of hearing aids under their policies, sells direct to the public through their AARP sponsored Medicare Plus program. This even though there is no professional involvement beyond a phone call, or email interchange, with all instruments being shipped on a do it yourself basis from their headquarters in Mn.
Given Florida Governor Scott’s refusal to get involved, and Florida’s Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner’s “Not my job.” response, along with the Florida Board of Hearing Aid Specialist’s complete impotence in stopping these practices, should we expect that Florida dispensers will be following Texas’s lead in seeking relief in the Federal courts?
Or, is it more likely that the delivery system will be forever changed with the consumer given the choice of unbundling all professional services, including those currently mandated protocols and procedures required of licensees?
After all, if lowering costs, and actually protecting consumer rather than protecting dispensers' economic interests is the true goal of enlightened government, informed consumer choice in the matter should be paramount.
Florida’s thirty day trial and return law adequately protects consumer’s financial interests. Our tort system is available to any consumers actually harmed in the dispensing of a hearing aid.
Given these facts along with the inevitability of the Internet with it’s instant consumer availability, isn’t it past time that we recognized these realities and stop holding licensees to laws that government is obviously unwilling to enforce upon multi-billion dollar corporations?
No one, except these insurance and retailing giant’s benefit by the current unequal protections being afforded under the law as presently enforced.