Academy Supports APCA

Academy Supports APCA

December 20, 2018 / By Lisa V. Christensen Government Relations News

The Board of Directors of the American Academy of Audiology (Academy) announces that it has voted to endorse the Audiology Patient Choice Act (APCA) on the condition that it include language to provide audiologists with the ability to opt-out of Medicare. The board feels that the modified legislation supports our long-term goal of professional autonomy and provides audiologists and patients with important protections given the uncertainty of future health-care coverage, payment, and reimbursement.

Over the past year, the Academy board has heard divergent views by members on the bill. We have listened to members’ concerns about some of the uncertainties regarding the bill, and we also heard from our members who are strong proponents of the legislation. The board has done further review, and we sought member guidance through analysis done by our Advocacy Council, Government Relations Committee, Coding and Reimbursement Committee, and Practice Policy Advisory Committee. This broad level of review helped us to understand the complexities regarding implementation and what the profession of audiology would actually look like should the bill be signed into law. We wanted to be comfortable that what the bill offers offsets any risk to audiologists.

The board feels strongly that the opt-out provision is needed to protect audiologists from some of the uncertainties regarding how CMS would implement the APCA if enacted into law. The opt-out provision allows for private contracts between providers and patients to give beneficiaries the choice of seeing providers who do not accept Medicare, an important protection for patients. Audiologists are already familiar with the opt-out/not enroll feature through state Medicaid. 

Members in the Academy have stressed the importance of unified voices and aligned efforts for the profession. The Academy’s endorsement of APCA with the slight changes to the bill language represents our sincere desire to move forward on a path of collaboration with the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA). We also will be open to working with ADA, as well as other groups, in supporting additional legislation and collaborative efforts that we believe to be in the best interests of the profession and the patients we serve. This legislation will be one component of a comprehensive legislative portfolio in the next Congress and certainly does not preclude the Academy from working on other areas of interest, like telehealth, VA issues, student loan forgiveness, and other access issues.

The Academy board has communicated the provisional endorsement to the leadership of the ADA, and we look forward to the opportunity to working together to reintroduce this legislation in the 116th Congress. 

Lisa V. Christensen, AuD


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