WASHINGTON, D.C. — With broad bi-partisan support, U.S. Representatives Tom Rice (R-SC), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-DE) introduced the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 (H.R. 4056).
This legislation will enhance the Medicare benefit by providing beneficiaries critical direct access to both diagnostic and therapeutic services of audiologists.
In addition to achieving broad-based bi-partisan support in Congress, the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 4056) has also been enthusiastically endorsed by leading audiology and consumer organizations including the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
The Medicare Audiologist Services Act
The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 4056) is intended to improve outcomes and reduce barriers to care by allowing Medicare beneficiaries to seek treatment directly from audiologists if they suspect they have a hearing or balance problem.
The legislation will streamline Medicare coverage policies so that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to their scope of practice. In addition, the legislation will reclassify audiologists as practitioners within the Medicare system, so that they can be deployed more effectively.
This legislation can improve outcomes for beneficiaries by allowing direct access to audiologic services and streamlining Medicare coverage policies so that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to their scope of practice. The legislation would also reclassify audiologists as practitioners, which is consistent with the way Medicare recognizes other non-physician providers, such as clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and advanced practice registered nurses.
“Seniors who suffer from hearing conditions shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to see their preferred audiologist, said Representative Tom Rice (SC-7). “The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act cuts through the red tape to help Medicare patients access quality, affordable care. I will continue to reach across the aisle to find straightforward solutions to health care problems.”
“ADA applauds Representative Rice and his colleagues for acting to remove impediments to the delivery of efficient, high-quality hearing and balance health care for millions of Medicare beneficiaries across the country. Hearing and balance disorders become more prevalent with age and, if left untreated, pose significant health, social, and financial risks,” Ram Nileshwar, Au.D., ADA President, said in a written statement.
Dr. Nileshwar went on to say, “ADA staff and leaders are proud to work alongside our esteemed colleagues to advocate for better access to care for our patients and to ensure that audiologists are classified within the Medicare system in a manner that reflects their extensive training, education, and scope of practice”.
Warren & Paul Introduce Senate Companion Bill
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a Senate companion bill shortly after H.R. 4056 was introduced into Congress.
“Outdated Medicare rules make it more difficult for seniors experiencing hearing loss to get the care they need. Our bill would clear the roadblocks that stand in the way of Medicare beneficiaries, and make audiology services more accessible.”
–Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Source: AAA, ADA, ASHA