As a result of joint advocacy by ASHA, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), a new Senate bill aims to improve access to audiologists for Medicare beneficiaries.
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 (S. 2446) earlier this week, following the introduction of identical House legislation (H.R. 4056) in July.
What do these bills aim to achieve?
On the patient side, the legislation would remove unnecessary barriers to patients’ receipt of appropriate, timely, and cost-effective audiologic care. Currently, Medicare requires a physician order for patients to see an audiologist—and covers only diagnostic services provided by the audiologist, without allowing for follow-up treatment or a plan of care.
This legislation can improve outcomes for beneficiaries by allowing direct access to audiologic services and streamlining Medicare coverage policies so that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to their scope of practice.
This legislation would also align patient access to audiology services under Medicare with patient access to audiology services outside of Medicare.
For audiologists, this legislation would reclassify the profession as practitioners, a category consistent with the way Medicare recognizes other nonphysician providers, such as clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and advanced practice registered nurses.
ASHA members, contact your members of Congress today and ask them to cosponsor the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 (H.R. 4056/S. 2446).
Contact Jerry White, ASHA’s director of federal affairs for health care, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jillian Kornak is writer/editor for the ASHA Leader. email@example.com.