By Christopher Spankovich This article is a part of the March/April 2020, Volume 32, Number 2, Audiology Today issue. The American Academy of Audiology (the Academy), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) are together seeking changes in Medicare rules. The changes proposed will allow Medicare patients direct access to audiology services without a referral from a physician and would reclassify audiologists as practitioners. Classification as practitioners would allow audiologists to be recognized by Medicare (i.e., reimbursed by Medicare) for the full scope of their state-defined licensure law. Notably, the Medicare Audiologist Access and Service Act (H.R. 1587/S. 1731) delivers a uniform message from audiology organizations to Capitol Hill for the pursuit of enhanced patient access to audiological care. H.R. 1587/S. 1731 would ensure that seniors and persons with disabilities on Medicare have access to a full range of hearing and balance health services provided by a licensed audiologist (see TABLE 1). WHAT THE BILL WILL DO WHAT THE BILL WOULD NOT DO Adds a definition of “audiologist services” to Medicare. Authorizes audiologists to provide covered services that fall under their state scope of practice.* Expand the audiology scope of practice*, e.g., allow for prescription or ordering rights. Amends the Medicare definition of practitioner to include audiologists (similar to providers such as clinical social workers and clinical psychologists) Change health benefits covered by Medicare such as inclusion of hearing aids. Removes pre-treatment order requirement for audiology services. Change Medicare provider status to physician or limited license physician at state level. Allow audiologists to opt-out of the Medicare program. TABLE 1. Medicare Audiologist Access and Service Act (H.R. 1587/S. 1731) The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) opposes direct access and status change to practitioners within the Medicare program (www.entnet.org/content/scope-practice-issues). The AAO-HNS argues to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and members of congress that direct access and practitioner status for audiologists would… “undermine the overall hearing health-care team…” and that “hearing and balance disorders are medical conditions that require a full patient history and physical examination by a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO). Further, the AAO-HNS opposes any legislation that would allow audiologists to independently diagnose or treat medical conditions associated with hearing loss.” Let’s consider these concerns and other potential concerns voiced by our otolaryngology colleagues. 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!