On September 9, 2019, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Roger F. Wicker (R-MS) introduced the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 (S.2446). Like its identical companion bill (H.R.4056) introduced on July 25 by Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC) and colleagues, this legislation will enhance the Medicare benefit by providing beneficiaries critical direct access to both diagnostic and therapeutic services of audiologists. The American Academy of Audiology has endorsed this bill, along with 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 Access and Services Act of 2019 will remove unnecessary barriers, allowing patients to receive appropriate, timely, and cost-effective audiologic care. 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.
Earlier this year, the Academy, ADA, and ASHA joined forces to develop this critical legislation for audiologists. Through a unified approach, the three organizations have achieved introduction of the bill and are working together to elicit broad support of the bill on both sides. Academy members can advance these efforts by reaching out to their legislators and asking for support of H.R.4056 and S.2446. Read the Academy’s issue brief to learn more.