Can Regulatory Changes Improve the Health of Older Americans with Hearing Loss?
Only one in seven Americans who could benefit from a hearing aid owns one. Why is this, what are the consequences, and what can we do about it? In a new article in the American Journal of Public Health, NYU Wagner Professor Jan Blustein and her colleague, Professor Barbara Weinstein of the CUNY Graduate Center, argue that better health policy could substantially improve our nation’s health.
They note that hearing loss is particularly common among older Americans. One quarter of US adults aged 60 to 69 has a disabling hearing loss, and this rises to 80% for those over 80. Studies show that people with hearing loss are more apt to be isolated and depressed. They are also linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including falls, fractures and cognitive decline. Low rates of hearing aid uptake reflect many factors, but importantly, they argue, hearing aids are too expensive. A typical aid costs $2,500, and most older people need devices for both ears. The Medicare program does not cover hearing aids, and seniors in need cite affordability as a key barrier to buying hearing aids.
As it stands, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictly regulates hearing aids and related devices, stifling competition in the device market. The authors cite two recent reports that argue that changes in the FDA’s rules could help. By creating an over-the-counter class of hearing devices, the FDA could bring hearing assistance within the financial reach of more seniors. If prices came down as a result, insurers might find it easier to cover the cost hearing aids. Being able to afford hearing aids could improve the lives of the 42 million Americans with hearing loss.
The article can be found here.
Capstone Projects Exhibited at Lively NYU Wagner Expo
NYU Wagner graduate students exhibited the findings of their 2015 Capstone team consultancy and research projects at a highly enthusiastic, dynamic expo that brought together hundreds of alumni, faculty, public service managers, and policymakers at the Kimmel Center for University Life on May 12.
Eighty-nine Capstone efforts, each tackling a critical challenge faced by a nonprofit, public, or private sector organization, were unveiled, their authors using laptops, full-color poster boards, and carefully sifted data to explain the impact of their projects for their client agency and the public at large.
The year’s work of the MPA and MUP students delved into complex questions of management, finance, policy, health care, urban planning, and applied research in local, domestic, and international realms.
Among the organizational clients served by the Capstone teams were: God’s Love We Deliver, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the China Center for Urban Development, Impact Hub Mexico City, Chevron Liberia, the World Bank South Asia Urban Sector, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the City of Long Beach, N.Y., and numerous others.
For the nonprofit God’s Love We Deliver, the Capstone team identified growth potential and service gaps for New York City area food and nutrition service. For the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a team explored ways to improve internal workflow process and response rates. In Long Beach, a community hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, a team worked on developing an integrated transportation plan. The impact of Chevron Liberia’s social investment program was still another team’s focus.
Capstone, a requirement of the Master of Public Administration and Master of Urban Planning programs at NYU Wagner, provides students with both a critical learning experience and an opportunity to perform a public service. Over the course of an academic year, students in Capstone work in teams with faculty oversight to address challenges and identify opportunities for a client organization or to conduct research on a pressing social question.
Capstone projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area; enhance key process skills such as project management and teamwork; and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. For students, it's an opportunity to apply their classroom learning in real time to unpredictable, complex, real-world situations.
The Capstone Program was originally funded with a generous grant from the Ford Foundation in 1995. Since then, more than 5,200 students have completed nearly 1,200 projects for more than 800 organizations. FJC: A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds provided generous financial support for this year's Capstone Program.