The American Academy of Audiology Applauds Introduction of Landmark Hearing Health Legislation in 110th Congress
(Reston, VA – March 27, 2007) – The American Academy of Audiology applauds Rep. Mike Ross (D-4th-AR) on the introduction of his legislation, the "Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2007" - HR 1665. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) intends to introduce the bill in the Senate when he returns to the office. The Academy's efforts on Capitol Hill led to the introduction of the bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, including securing 14 other representatives joining Rep. Ross in cosponsoring the bill.
The legislation would provide seniors "direct access" to qualified audiologists for hearing and balance testing. Currently, Medicare requires seniors with hearing loss or balance disorders to obtain a physician referral before seeing an audiologist.
According to Academy President Paul Pessis, "This bill will enhance the choice of Medicare beneficiaries with hearing loss to receive high quality services from audiologists. The Academy thanks the sponsors of this legislation for their leadership and longstanding support of hearing health care."
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has allowed veterans to directly access audiologists and has reported that this policy, adopted in 1992, provides "high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective hearing care." The Office of Personnel Management allows federal employees and Members of Congress to directly access audiologists through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan. The bill would apply this federal policy to hearing health care services provided in the Medicare program.
Audiologists are uniquely trained and educated in the evaluation, assessment, diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of hearing and balance problems. At the minimum, all audiologists hold master's degrees and complete clinical practicums. To further meet the demands of new technology and better treatment modalities, the audiology curriculum has been mandated to be a doctoral-level program by the year 2012. Through existing participation in the Medicare program, audiologists improve the overall quality of life for Medicare beneficiaries through the timely identification of hearing and balance problems and use of effective treatment options to reduce the impact of these problems. Audiologists are credentialed providers under the Medicare program and are reimbursed directly for their services without physician supervision in order to provide the appropriate care to older Americans in need.
The American Academy of Audiology is the world's largest professional organization of, by and for audiologists. With an active membership of more than 10,000 audiologists practicing nationwide in private practices, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, clinics, and other settings, the Academy promotes quality hearing and balance care by advancing the profession of audiology through leadership, advocacy, education, public awareness and support of research.
To learn more about this legislation and how audiologists are helping the 31 million Americans who have hearing loss, please visit the Academy's Web site at www.audiology.org.