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Feds lay out plan for over-the-counter hearing aids

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Feds lay out plan for over-the-counter hearing aids

WASHINGTON — Health regulators unveiled plans to allow Americans to buy hearing aids without a prescription, a long-awaited move intended to make the devices more accessible to millions of people with hearing problems.

Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the change, when finalized, should spur competition and bring down prices.

“Today we open the door to an easier process and a more affordable process,” Becerra told reporters on Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration said the proposed rule would cut red tape that currently requires hearing exams and a prescription for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

Under the plan, the devices could be ordered online or bought over-the-counter at pharmacies and other retail stores.

The move follows years of pressure from medical experts and consumer advocates to make the devices cheaper and easier to get.

More than 37 million Americans, or 15% of adults, have trouble hearing, according to the FDA, but only about one-fifth of people who can benefit from a hearing aid use one.

Cost is a big obstacle. Between the device itself and fitting services, Americans can pay more than $5,000 to get a hearing aid. Insurance coverage is very limited, and Medicare doesn’t pay for hearing aids, only diagnostic tests.

The agency will take public comments on its proposal for 90 days before finalizing the new rules. FDA officials wouldn’t speculate on when new devices would actually hit store shelves.

Consumer electronic companies for years have produced lower-cost “personal sound amplification” devices, but U.S. regulations bar them from being marketed as hearing aids and they do not undergo FDA review.

Regulators said Tuesday that the new rules will make explicit that those devices are not alternatives to FDA-vetted hearing aids. Companies that market them inappropriately could face federal penalties, such as fines or product seizures.

For their part, makers of hearing aids have long argued that professional expertise is required to pick the right device and adjust its settings to work properly.

Once the FDA rules take effect, traditional manufacturers are expected to begin selling cheaper, direct-to-consumer models. Eventually, advocates predict the hearing aid market will resemble eye care, where consumers can choose between drugstore reading glasses or prescription bifocals.

The looser regulations would not apply to devices for people with severe hearing loss or for children. Also, the agency said over-the-counter devices would be required to have volume limits and other measures to help prevent injuries.

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Broncos’ message entering division-heavy final stretch to season: Why not us?

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Broncos’ message entering division-heavy final stretch to season: Why not us?

Rewarded with multi-year contracts days apart during the Broncos’ bye week, receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick spent several minutes last Monday expressing gratitude for the organization’s faith in them and recounting the personal adversity they’ve overcome.

The talk then pivoted to the state of the Broncos entering Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Broncos are 5-5 and five of their seven remaining games are against AFC West competition. The message from Sutton and Patrick: Why not us?

“If we take care of (the last seven games), we’ll get that (playoff) taste,” Sutton said. “It’s hard to even put into words how bad we want that and how bad we want that for us, the team and the city. It’s been way overdue for the city to be able to have a playoff game here and the Broncos in the playoffs.”

Said Patrick: “Everything is right in front of us. We have five division games left. We win those and we’re in the playoffs. It’s very possible.”

Sutton is right — a real playoff pursuit has been lacking around these parts since winning the Super Bowl in 2015.

And Patrick is right — if the Broncos take advantage of their division-heavy schedule, they will snap their five-year postseason drought.

The Broncos, however, will need a major course correction to be in the division and/or wild card conversation when mid-December rolls around. A couple of facts to consider:

  • Dating back to last year, they have lost five consecutive division games (outscored 144-99), tied for the team’s third-longest slump since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger and the longest since a six-game streak in 2010-11.
  • Since the start of the 2016 season, the Broncos are a woeful 10-21 in AFC West games, worst in the division by 2 1/2 games. Kansas City is 27-5 (two eight-game winning streaks) followed by Las Vegas (14-19) and the Chargers (13-19).

Overall, Denver must play better at home. The Broncos are 21-24 at Mile High since the start of 2016, including 2-3 this year in which they were favored in each game.

“All three of them are really good teams,” coach Vic Fangio said of the Chiefs (7-4), Chargers (6-4) and Raiders (6-5). “Good offenses and good defenses. Kansas City’s playing really good defense now. The Chargers and Raiders have stepped it up defensively. I see complete teams that are led by really good quarterbacks.”

Is the season on the line Sunday? Absolutely.

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Week 12 NFL Picks: Surging New England, back in first place, hosts Tennessee

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Dave Hyde: With Dolphins and Jets in latest Rebuild Bowl, Patriots again show how it’s done

Game of the week

Tennessee at New England

The Patriots, back atop the AFC East thanks to Buffalo’s issues, are a 6 1/2-point favorite over the Titans, who inexplicably lost to Houston at home last week. Major credit to rookie quarterback Mac Jones for helping New England dig out of its 1-3 start.

Patriots 24, Titans 17

Lock of the week

L.A. Rams at Green Bay

When last seen, the Rams and their cast of All-Stars had no answer for San Francisco. They’ve had two weeks to re-group and their assignment is a Packers offense that rolled up 467 yards in last week’s loss at Minnesota. The Packers are a one-point favorite and they coast to a win.

Packers 35, Rams 21

Upset of the week

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

The Bengals are a 4 1/2-point favorite and ended a two-game slide with last week’s win at Las Vegas. But we’re not ready to buy stock in Cincinnati, which visits the Broncos next month. Pittsburgh keeps pace in the jumbled AFC North as Ben Roethlisberger improves to 16-3 all-time in Cincy.

Steelers 29, Bengals 24


Around the AFC: Upset win over Tampa Bay would put Colts RB Jonathan Taylor in MVP conversation

Taylor’s MVP pursuit. Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor leads the NFL with 1,122 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, but the Colts are a middling team (6-5) so can he really be considered a part of the MVP conversation? Yes, if the Colts can beat Tampa Bay Sunday. In last week’s rout at Buffalo, Taylor became the first player in league history to have at least 175 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and one touchdown catch in the same game. Taylor was the fifth player all-time with four rushing scores/one receiving score in a game and the first since Seattle’s Shaun Alexander in September 2002.

Houston screwing up. The Texans are going to screw up and not draft in the top three, right? Houston’s first blunder was winning its opener against Jacksonville. Its second blunder was snapping an eight-game losing streak and shocking Tennessee last week. The Texans entered Week 12 with the fourth pick behind Detroit, Jacksonville and the Jets. Houston hosts the Jets Sunday and a win might push the Texans out of the top five. General manager Nick Caserio’s looming decision: Draft a quarterback in the first round or stick with Tyrod Taylor and build the non-quarterback foundation while waiting for an option.

Judon free-agent home run. New England signed pass rusher Matthew Judon away from Baltimore in March with a four-year, $54.4 million contract. In 76 games for the Ravens, Judon had 34 1/2 sacks. In 11 games for the Patriots, he has 10 1/2. Judon reminds us of the impact Denver native Calais Campbell had on Jacksonville in 2017 after signing as a free agent (career-high 14 1/2 sacks in helping the Jaguars to the AFC title game). Judon’s Patriots host Tennessee on Sunday and have allowed the league’s fewest points per game (16.1).


Around the NFC: Philadelphia using running game to climb back into playoff contention

Eagles running wild. The Broncos’ defense shouldn’t feel too bad about being gashed for 216 yards rushing by Philadelphia in Week 10; the Eagles are running through and over most opponents. The Eagles have climbed to second in the league in rushing (153.4 yards per game) after gaining 236, 176, 216 and 242 yards in the last four games (3-1 record).  During those four games, they have rushed 46, 39, 39 and 50 times. The Eagles (5-6) are in the NFC wild-card hunt and play at the lowly Giants Sunday.

Garrett gets gate. Jason Garrett’s two claims to fame during his 26-game tenure as the Giants’ offensive coordinator, which ended with his firing after losing to Tampa Bay: He told the media he preferred to be called “Coach,” instead of “Jason,” and his offense finished 31st and 25th in scoring. This can only be viewed as a last gasp for coach Joe Judge, whose second year started by throwing a red flag against the Broncos to challenge a scoring play (which are automatically reviewed). The Giants need a total housecleaning — general manager/coach/quarterback — but what are the chances ownership can get it right? Not great so the Giants aren’t a very attractive franchise at this point.

Elimination game? Minnesota travels to San Francisco in a matchup of 5-5 teams on two-game winning streaks. A wild card spot is the best playoff route for the Vikings and 49ers so this game has major tie-breaking implications. We’ll go with the 49ers, who are literally driving opponents crazy. Against the Rams in Week 10, the 49ers had scoring drives of 18 plays-88 yards-11:03, 11-91-7:52 and 10-31-6:54. At Jacksonville last week, they opened with a scoring drive of 20 plays-87 yards-13:05; the longest possession in terms of time since at least 2000.

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Grading the Week: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun continues to run circles around his Colorado counterparts — literally

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Grading the Week: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun continues to run circles around his Colorado counterparts — literally

The triple-option offense is a curveball every defensive coordinator sees coming — but still can’t hit.

And it’s one of the primary reasons the Grading the Week staff hold an undying affinity for Troy Calhoun’s Air Force Falcons.

Troy Calhoun — A

The box score from Air Force’s 48-14 rout of UNLV at Falcon Stadium on Friday says it all.

The Falcons ran 69 offensive plays, gained 511 yards, scored six touchdowns … and didn’t attempt a single pass.

That, dear readers, is a work of art. Frame it and auction it off as an NFT. And while you’re at it, maybe consider shipping it north to the three other major college football programs in the Centennial State. Because that sort of dominance hasn’t been seen at CU, CSU or Northern Colorado in quite a while.

With Friday’s blowout victory, the Falcons closed out the regular season with a 9-3 record overall. That’s nine wins in 12 games — or one short of CU, CSU and UNC combined (10) with a bowl game left to play.

Just two years ago, Calhoun was rumored to be a candidate for CU’s head coaching vacancy after Mel Tucker bolted for B1G cash. His candidacy was met with a collective yawn from Buffs faithful, though Calhoun’s Falcons have nearly four times as many bowl bids (11) as CU (3) during his 15-year tenure.

No doubt, visions of triple-option Saturdays at Folsom Field clouded CU fans’ minds.

To which we say this: Things could be much, more worse. Like, say, the 2021 Buffs offense.

Nuggets injuries — F

Hello darkness, my old friend. It’s painful to see you visiting the Nuggets once again.

But here we are, mourning the loss of yet another player to a season-ending injury (guard P.J. Dozier, ACL tear) while anxiously awaiting word on whether or not another (forward Michael Porter Jr., back) will suffer the same fate.

With even the indefatigable Nikola Jokic missing games to a wrist injury, and Jamal Murray months away from re-joining the team after suffering an ACL tear of his own last spring, it’s starting to feel like this season is already lost.

While the Nuggets are still near locks to reach the postseason for a fourth straight year — there’s no way a Jokic-led squad finishes outside the Western Conference top 10 — it’s hard to imagine them making any noise when they get there.

If that’s the case, that leaves us pondering yet another depressing thought: Under those circumstances, should Denver even consider rushing Murray back before the playoffs this season?

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