RESTON, VA—A study commissioned by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) has found that giving Medicare beneficiaries direct access to audiologists would save Medicare about $240 million over 10 years.
In a message e-mailed to AAA members on November 7, Deborah L. Carlson, PhD, president of the academy said, “This compelling and comprehensive study shows what the academy has purported for many years: Direct access to audiologists by Medicare beneficiaries is cost-effective and safe.”
AAA has been working with Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, LLC, an independent health care economics consulting firm, for the past 18 months to determine the impact on Medicare spending of providing beneficiaries direct access to audiologists.
The report drew upon data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a comprehensive literature review, interviews with stakeholder, and the assistance of a clinical advisory committee.
The study identified two primary areas where direct access would yield savings: (1) the reduction of duplicative and unnecessary services associated with obtaining a physician referral, and (2) increased vestibular intervention for Medicare beneficiaries that would prevent falls, which result in costly and debilitating patient care.
According to AAA, the study also “established that patient safety is in no way compromised by eliminating the current ‘gatekeeper’ model” of delivering audiologic care to older Americans.
President Carlson stated, “The solid methodology and analytical approach used to evaluate the immense amount of data available are indisputable and the impact of this study cannot be overstated. This development is critical in our efforts toward a legislative victory.”
ON TO CAPITOL HILL
Armed with the results that it was looking for, AAA told members that it is “aggressively and effectively using these data to advance direct access on Capitol Hill.”
Specifically, the academy will be lobbying for passage of the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 2140/S. 3242), which would eliminate the requirement that Medicare beneficiaries obtain a physician’s referral before seeing an audiologist. The academy urged members to visit its Legislative Action Center to contact their members of Congress and encourage them to support this initiative.
DETAILS NOT AVAILABLE
Attempts by Hearing News Watch to learn more about the study from AAA or to obtain a copy of the report were unsuccessful. Amy Miedema, the organization’s senior director of communication, wrote in reply to our blog’s inquiry that “the Academy will ultimately publish more details for our members in the near future.”