By Susan Pilch This article is a part of the September/October 2021, Volume 33, Number 5, Audiology Today issue. There are a myriad of issues facing the profession of audiology—updating the classification and role of the audiologist in Medicare, the advent of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, and implementation of the interstate licensure compact. The critical issue at the heart of each of these topics is ensuring that the value of the audiologist in creating optimal patient outcomes in hearing and balance health care is appropriately recognized and reflected in federal and state legislation and policy. Medicare Modernization: Recognition of Audiologists as Experts in Hearing and Balance Care The top legislative priority of the Academy is securing the passage of the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 1587/S. 1731). This legislation enjoys bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and was first introduced in the last Congress (116th). The Academy worked with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) to draft the legislation and continues to collaborate with both groups to lobby to advance the bill. This legislation would “modernize” the way Medicare classifies and approaches the profession of audiology, something that has not been done since the advent of the Medicare program in 1965. Audiologists are still classified as “suppliers,” and this effectively limits the amount and types of services that audiologists can provide to beneficiaries. Also, beneficiaries still must obtain a physician order to see an audiologist, a barrier not imposed by virtually any other public or private payer. This legislation would reclassify audiologists as “practitioners,” allow them to provide and be reimbursed for both diagnostic AND treatment services, and remove the physician-order requirement. It is important to note that this legislation would not add any new services to Medicare. Rather, audiologists would be able to provide and be reimbursed for the services that they are the experts in—hearing- and balance-related care. These services are currently being provided to beneficiaries by other Medicare providers that do not have the education or the breadth of experience to provide these services at the highest level. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!