Access to Telehealth Act Re-Introduced and Academy Viewpoint
Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) re-introduced the Expanded Telehealth Access Act on March 24, 2021. This legislation would expand the list of providers eligible for Medicare reimbursement for providing care via telehealth to include all qualified Medicare providers. The legislation also creates a designation of “provider” specific to telehealth.
The Academy has questioned this designation given that one of the main prongs of the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA) is the re-classification of audiologists from supplier to “practitioner” under Medicare. It is this re-classification that sets the stage for audiologists being able to provide treatment and diagnostic services and remove the current physician referral requirement. In addition, this re-classification would also allow audiologists to be able to provide Medicare services via telehealth.
The Academy has concerns that the creation of a new designation of “provider” could be viewed as in conflict with MAASA. In light of these concerns, the Academy will remain neutral on this legislation and has drafted the following joint statement with ADA to reflect our position:
The American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) appreciate the intent of the Expanded Telehealth Access Act to expand eligibility for reimbursement of telehealth services to all qualified Medicare providers; however, the legislation does not address fully the policy changes needed for Medicare beneficiaries to have sufficient access to services provided by audiologists. We are grateful to Rep. McKinley for his recognition of the critical role of audiologists in the provision of hearing and balance health care, as demonstrated by his support of H.R. 1587, The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA). MAASA addresses more comprehensively the changes needed in Medicare statute to support direct access to the full range of audiologic services.