NOAC Students Advocate for Audiology in Washington, DC
On February 22, a group of 16 students from the Northeast Ohio AuD Consortium (NOAC) travelled to Washington, DC for the third consecutive year to advocate for audiology and the importance of hearing health care. The group met with 16 different Congressional offices, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), EHDI Champion Rob Portman (R-OH), Energy and Commerce Committee members Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Ways and Means Committee members Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Steven Horsford (D-NV), and Brian Higgins (D-NY), amongst other offices. Students were accompanied by members of the American Academy of Audiology’s government relations department, including Adam Finkel and one of the Academy’s legislative and regulatory consultants, Carrie Kovar.
The group included several students who have been to Capitol Hill before to advocate for audiology, as well as multiple first-year audiology students. Students discussed two pending legislative matters before the 116th Congress: The Access to Frontline Health Care Act and the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act. The Access to Frontline Health Care Act was introduced by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) in the 115th Congress. This legislation would authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to create a student loan repayment program for working audiologists, amongst other professionals, who work for more than two years in a federally-designated frontline scarcity area. This would incentivize professional audiologists to work in areas where there are provider shortages while also helping to repay their student loans.
NOAC students also lobbied for the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) in the 115th Congress. It would allow for greater access to audiological services under the Medicare program by adding audiologists to the list of eligible providers who can be reimbursed by Medicare for services provided via telehealth. The Academy thanks the NOAC students who came to DC and met with their members of Congress to talk about the importance of audiology and hearing health care.