The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report on accessibility and affordability of hearing health care Thursday, including 12 recommendations—many of which ASHA supports, with some exceptions.
“Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability” recommends the creation of a new class of over-the-counter hearing devices for mild to moderate hearing loss by the Food and Drug Administration. However, it does not include a recommendation that consumers receive an audiological evaluation before using them—a concern noted by Neil DiSarno, ASHA chief officer for audiology, in an announcement about the report.
“Although ASHA supports greater access to technology, we continue to maintain that counseling and aural rehabilitation—provided by audiologists—are critical to the successful adaptation of technology,” DiSarno states in the announcement.
ASHA was pleased with other recommendations in the report, including suggestions about Medicare coverage of audiologic services in line with H.R. 1116, the Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act of 2015. It also supports the need for a demonstration project to evaluate the effects of direct access—rather than requiring physician referral—to hearing-related diagnostic services for Medicare beneficiaries.
The report also identifies hearing loss as a medical condition and the fifth leading cause of years lived with a disability.
Haley Blum is a writer/editor for The ASHA Leader. firstname.lastname@example.org