After what was, by several accounts, a contentious membership meeting to discuss the Audiology Patient Choice Act, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) issued the following statement:
The Academy strongly supports streamlining access to audiology services and being recognized and reimbursed for performing our full scope of practice under the Medicare program and across private payers. We view these two goals as critical in supporting the autonomous practice of audiologists.
Though the Audiology Patient Choice Act may help us to achieve some of these goals, there are aspects of the limited license physician status policy that must be better understood in order to mitigate potential risks to our members. These specific areas include what unintended consequences may arise in being included under the umbrella of physicians under Medicare, such as increased reporting requirements for physicians under Medicare’s new Quality Payment Program and expectations for adoption and usage of EHR, the potential impact on Medicare costs, and any subsequent effects on reimbursement for audiology services.
Advancing these two goals reflects an incremental approach that we feel is more politically feasible at this time given the current climate on Capitol Hill, communications with congressional staff, and discussions with other stakeholders, including other audiology professional organizations and hearing health care specialty societies. The Academy plans to convene these stakeholders to discuss a legislative approach reflective of these goals.
The Audiology Patient Choice Act is a bipartisan congressional bill that is intended to improve hearing health care for Medicare beneficiaries by allowing audiologists to provide services already covered by Medicare that are also within an audiologist’s scope of practice. The legislation makes no changes to the scope of hearing health benefits covered by Medicare or the scope of practice of audiologists. The legislation is currently endorsed by the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and the Hearing Loss Association of America.
The bill includes provisions that would implement the National Academies’ recommendation to allow audiologists to receive Medicare reimbursement for auditory rehabilitation services. The legislation would also ensure that Medicare’s treatment of audiologists are consistent with the classification of other health care providers such as optometrists, dentists, chiropractors and podiatrists.
HHTM will continue to cover events related to the Audiology Patient Choice Act, including reactions from AAA members.