H.R. 6612 and one section of S.785 would require the VA Secretary to prescribe technical qualifications to be appointed as a “licensed hearing aid specialist” within the VA by a date certain and the appointment of at least one such individual at each VA Medical Center within two years.

The legislation would require that the technical qualifications for a “licensed hearing aid specialist” be consistent with the Department of Labor (DOL) hearing instrument apprenticeship program and the core task competencies for hearing instrument specialists as determined by the Occupational Information Network Database (ONET).

The DOL apprenticeship program has no has no minimum number of training hours required for completion and the ONET database is not designed to appropriate to determine the specific skills and competencies needed for a specific job within a specific organization—like the VA.

The VA currently has the authority to hire hearing instrument specialists as needed.  The mandates outlined in this legislation could impede the VA’s ability to evaluate and deploy scarce resources as needed.