Representatives from ASHA, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) briefed Congress on Friday, Oct. 18, to promote legislation that will help audiologists better diagnose, treat, and prevent hearing loss and balance disorders for Medicare beneficiaries.
Under current law, Medicare allows beneficiaries to visit an audiologist only with a physician order, and covers only audiology diagnostic services—not follow-up treatment or a plan of care. The legislation, H.R. 4056/S. 2446, the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act, can improve outcomes for beneficiaries by allowing direct access to audiologic services and streamlining of Medicare coverage policies so that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered audiology diagnostic and treatment services.
Sharon Sandridge, ASHA vice president for audiology practice and section head of Hearing, Speech and Balance Services at the Cleveland Clinic, emphasized “the critical role audiologists play in the diagnosis and treatment of vestibular disorders” in her remarks.
AAA addressed audiologists’ role in preventing, diagnosing, and treating hearing loss, and ADA focused on the legislation itself. “We hope to build congressional support for Medicare coverage of treatment services provided by audiologists within our scope of practice,” Sandridge said.
The briefing, “Audiology: Treating Hearing Loss & Balance Disorders,” highlighted the new legislation developed by ASHA, AAA, and ADA, which—in addition to providing Medicare coverage of audiology treatment services and allowing direct access to audiologists—would also reclassify audiologists as practitioners under Medicare, consistent with how Medicare recognizes certain other nonphysician providers.
Strategic advocacy by ASHA and its partners has helped nearly triple the number of cosponsors on the bill from nine to 24 in just over two months. To continue that momentum, lend your voice to these advocacy efforts. Contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act.
Jerry White is director of ASHA federal affairs in health care. firstname.lastname@example.org