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Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 1587) has been introduced by Representative Tom Rice (SC-7)
Introduced [as H.R. X] by Representatives Tom Rice (R-SC) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA), with more than 20 bipartisan original co-sponsors, the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA) of 2021 will enhance the Medicare benefit by providing critical direct access to both diagnostic and therapeutic services provided by audiologists. The American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) endorse this legislation as a top priority to ensure expedient and optimal hearing and balance health care for the older adult population in the United States.
The legislation will remove unnecessary barriers to allow Medicare beneficiaries 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. Classification as practitioners under Medicare would enable audiologists to furnish services through telehealth, ensuring continuity of hearing health care in the time of public health emergencies such as COVID-19. The bill garnered significant bipartisan support last Congress with 65 cosponsors.
The introduction of MAASA coincides with annual World Hearing Day. This public awareness event spearheaded by the World Hearing Organization (WHO) includes a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. Projecting that 1 in 4 people around the world will suffer from hearing loss by 2050, the WHO has released the first ever World Report on Hearing to call attention to the need for action across nations.
AAA, ADA, and ASHA continue their collaborative efforts to advance a unified approach to expanding access to and coverage of audiology services to the millions of Americans in the Medicare system. A similar bill introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in the last Congress also secured significant bipartisan support
October 2017- EHDI Bill Passes Congress
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Act, (S. 652). The Senate passed this legislation on September 7. The bill now moves to the President’s desk for his signature to become law. This bipartisan legislation, sponsored in the House by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Doris Matsui (D-CA), reauthorizes funding for EHDI programs over the next five years. Since this program was first approved in 2000, the number of newborns who were screened for hearing loss increased significantly from just 44 percent to over 97 percent.
“Detecting hearing loss early is critical to ensuring that newborns, infants, toddlers, and young children are able to access appropriate intervention programs in a timely manner,” said Academy President Jackie Clark, PhD. “The Academy commends Congress for acting to reauthorize EHDI, and we eagerly await President Trump’s signature on this important piece of legislation.”
The Academy thanks its members and other professional colleagues for their continued grassroots support in passing this important legislation!
Department of Labor (DOL) Rescinds Hearing Aid Specialist Apprenticeship Program- SUCCESS
On November 15th, 2015, ADA was informed that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) officially rescinded the highly concerning apprenticeship program for hearing aid dispensers. The controversial apprenticeship program was rescinded on July 25th. The DOL cited the need to seek additional input from audiology stakeholders before creating such a program in the future. This information was provided through a correspondence with Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), who expressed concern to the DOL on the development of the apprenticeship program absent input from audiology organizations. ADA will continue to monitor future actions by the DOL regarding hearing aid dispenser apprenticeship to ensure that the public interest is protected.
Federal Legislative Issues