Congress Beginning to Listen: Medicare Hearing Health Care Act
(Washington, DC – July 16, 2008) This week the leadership of the American Academy of Audiology visits Washington, DC to celebrate 100 cosponsors to the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1665). Introduced by Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR), this legislation has the support of virtually every national hearing health consumer/patient based organization including, among others, the National Association of the Deaf, the Hearing Loss Association of America, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Rural Health Association, the American Tinnitus Association, the American Association of the Deaf-Blind, the National Cued Speech Association and the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses.
The Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1665) is now poised for consideration when Congress and/or the new administration address comprehensive health care reform. “We have nearly doubled the amount of congressional sponsorship in just 15 months for H.R. 1665 well ahead of the three previous congressional sessions,” stated Patrick Feeney, Academy President. “The national momentum for this legislation creates a benchmark of support which will resonate throughout Congress for years to come and is sure to be included in any discussion for national health care reform.”
Congressional leaders often consider support for measurements in Congress in order to examine issues of national need. “Clearly, this shows that lawmakers recognize that their constituents in 100 districts across the country overwhelmingly support access to audiological services under Medicare,” stated Feeney. “It is wonderful to see these lawmakers placing the patient before the payment allowing the groundswell of momentum to continue.”
More recently, Congress also recognized the profession of audiology by specifically including audiologists among the providers who can participate in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). This initiative provides an incentive payment for eligible professionals who satisfactorily report data on quality measures for covered services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries. “This just reinforces our belief that Congress is poised to make a committed effort to seniors who are dealing with hearing loss and that they understand the savings this legislation can offer the Medicare program,” said Feeney.
“Were not done yet,” stated Feeney, “we are just taking a breath commemorating our hard work and effort over the past year.” “We have successfully invigorated our identity on Capitol Hill allowing Congress to recognize that we are a part of a coalition of patient - based organizations seeking to take part in the solution of national health care reform for our nation’s seniors.”