As announced on November 18, the US Congress passed the Fit to Serve bill, allowing hearing instrument specialists to work directly with American veterans. Although the Fit to Serve legislation passed, it was not without substantial modifications. The bill, which is expected to be signed in the near future by President Obama, contains considerable patient protections and maintains the important role of the audiologist in the delivery of care.
On the heels of this legislation, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced they have rescinded the proposed apprenticeship program for hearing aid dispensers, citing the need to seek additional input from audiology stakeholders before creating such a program.
In June, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor established National Apprenticeship Standards for hearing aid specialists that would expand their scope of practice beyond what is authorized by many state licensing laws. This proposal came under scrutiny by the three professional audiology organizations: ASHA, AAA and ADA.
Given the Department of Labor’s decision and the passage of the Fit to Serve compromise legislation, audiologists can proclaim a victory of sorts, as these recent rulings essentially recognize and preserve audiology’s scope of practice.
“The DOL decision and the passage of the compromise legislation represent the culmination of efforts by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), collectively the Audiology Organizations, to prevent hearing aid dispensers from expanding their scope of practice both on the state level and within the VA system. Today marks a great victory for audiologists as we continue to ensure our patients receive access to high quality audiological care.”
–Excerpt from AAA notice sent to members last week, obtained by HHTM