US Senate Passes IHS “Fit to Serve” Legislation: Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 2016

hearing aid fit to serve bill
November 18, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — The International Hearing Society (IHS) announced today that the US Senate unanimously passed H.R. 3471, commonly referred to as the “Fit to Serve” bill, on November 17, 2016.  The bill was backed in the Senate by S. 564 sponsors, Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

H.R. 3471 cleared the US House of Representatives in September of this year, following changes to the bill’s original language, which was amended to reflect the concerns of the three audiology professional organizations (AAA, ASHA and ADA). Jointly, the three organizations maintain that the Veterans Health Administration has the authority to hire hearing instrument specialists, but the revised language of the bill provides “congressional intent” on the role these professionals can play in the VA, restricting their job duties “to reflect their limited training and education.”


New Chapter in VA Hearing Care


The legislation will create a new job classification within the VA for hearing aid specialists, who had previously only been able to work within the VA system as health technicians. 



Scott Beall, AuD

“VA health technicians cannot provide hearing tests or perform hearing aid programming adjustments—services that could help alleviate the workload of audiologists and free them up to focus on disability evaluations, complex cases, and other services for which audiologists are uniquely qualified to provide. Having licensed hearing aid specialists on staff to provide those services for which they are permitted through state licensure can provide significant relief while ensuring quality.”  

IHS President, Scott Beall, AuD, CCC-A, ACA, BC-HIS


According to IHS, the legislation will also require the VA to report annually to Congress on appointment wait times and staffing levels, to provide that the VA is “not only incentivized to use hearing aid specialists, but also reduce wait times for veterans seeking care through the VA”.

Having passed the US House of Representatives and now the Senate, H.R. 3471 will now go to the President’s desk for his signature. 



Source: International Hearing Society 


  1. Oh God. This sucks for the Veterans. If they only knew how their care will be compromised in lieu of speed.

    1. Let me guess, you are an AuD that believes you are superior to the lowly and despicable Hearing Instrument Specialists? I have worked with both AuDs and HIS’s in the 9 years I’ve been in this profession and the VA’s care wont be compromised in the slightest. There are AuDs that graduate and don’t have a clue how to properly fit a hearing aid. Not to mention that the protocol is the same for AuDs as it is for HIS. All patients have to have medical waivers to be fit and even the all mighty Audiologists have to refer to an actual doctor for any medical red flags that come up during an evaluation. Take a step off your high horse and work together to better serve out Veterans!

      1. Amen to that Amy! I guess Anonymous is afraid to show his/her face. With the passage of this bill, the Vets will finally get the service they deserve. I have been reprogramming Veteran’s hearing aids and servicing their aids for years! Many have never gotten the results from their hearing aids that they deserve. I love helping them hear better. It is my hope that eventually we will be able to get paid to do these services in our offices or in the smaller local VA clinic. That would take a big burden off of the Audiology departments at the big clinics. More people would be able to be seen in significantly less time. Work together. We are not the AuD’s enemy but rather your friends.

  2. Promoting/validating improperly educated individuals just to provide faster services is another blow to veterans healthcare.

    1. Some of us in the VA will always use hearing aids specialists as hearing health tech. No patient care will ever be compromised in the department that I lead for the sake of meeting access. I will rather fee-base these veterans for better care than relegate audiology duties to dispensers.

  3. As long as they function in the same capacity as Audiology technician, it will be fine. Let the audiologist focus diagnostics, counseling and special testing. I just don’t trust the VA to properly supervise and manage these technicians. I guess time will tell.

  4. So much jealousy for HA specialists to be encroaching into the VA? Hey, HAD’s definitely do a much better job with hearing rehab. I know it because I train audiologists to come up to standards that HAD’s have in our profession.

    The best care is provided by caring professionals. Right? If yuh ain’t the caring type, yuh needs tuh change baby.

  5. Licensed hearing aid specialists do a wonderful job with hearing aid adjustments. In some cases they are able to on the spot repairs that AuDs do not want to spend time doing.
    There is no compromise in care. Not long ago audiologists didn’t even work with hearing aids. That was not part of theit scope.

  6. Hearing Health Technicians should have a very specific scope of practice and work under the supervision of audiologists. The time audiologists spend with Veterans is quality time. We should have safeguards in place to protect this quality time and a Veteran’s preference to see his assigned audiologist.

  7. Dear Audiologists,
    Your insecurity is showing. If you think that an experienced hearing aid fitter cannot effectively and compassionately treat adult hearing loss while following professional best practice protocols you are kidding yourselves. I do not blame you for being fearful about the future of your profession but hearing aid dispensers are not your enemy. This is like blaming immigrants for job losses when, in fact, it is technology and disruptive market influences creating change. This is not about you, it is about access that is useful, convenient and in the service to those who have served all of us.

  8. In my 40 plus years as an audiologist and hearing aid dispenser, I have seen abysmal fittings from both camps. What confounds me is the eternal bickering that has gone on between hearing aid dispensers and audiologists. Our goals in fitting hearing instruments is to enhance the quality of daily life for the hearing impaired, both veterans and non-veterans. If this is done well by either professional, it is all for the better. There is a bell-curve continuum for all professionals. Honest introspection will tell each of you where you fall along that continuum. In order to make sure the veterans receive the best of care, the prospective hearing aid dispensers and audiologists must be thoroughly vetted to weed out those who should not provide services, be it an audiologist or dispenser. I’m not certain how to do this, but am certain the brainiacs who run the VA could come up with some sort of reasonable vetting procedure. I don’t think it matters who is providing the services, if the person performing the service knows what he is doing. Instead of throwing daggers and being suspicious of one another, a cooperative program would help the veterans, the rest of the thirty plus millions who haven’t been reached by our professions and the professionals themselves. It’s time to grow up, for our own sakes.

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