The Ways and Means Committee released legislation Tuesday (September 7) intended for inclusion in a reconciliation package this fall that outlines how Medicare should cover dental care, as well as vision and hearing services.
In addition to dental coverage, the Ways and Means bill also extends Medicare Part B to cover aural rehabilitation and treatment services starting October 1, 2023; reclassifies audiologists as practitioners; and covers hearing aids every five years for beneficiaries with profound or severe hearing loss who have a written order for the devices from a physician or participating audiologist.
The American Academy of Audiology was pleased to see audiologists reclassified as practitioners in the bill and able to provide diagnostic and treatment services, said the Academy’s Senior Director of Government Relations Susan Pilch, JD. She also said the organization appreciates that the bill would cover audiologists’ services and not just devices.
However, the Academy is still hoping to see a provision in the final bill that removes a current requirement on the books that Medicare beneficiaries receive a physician referral to access audiology services. The Academy has also had conversations throughout the bill-drafting process about other aspects of the bill, including expanding the degree of hearing loss necessary for hearing aid coverage.
“We’re certainly cognizant of the fact that some of these other parameters are sort of budgetarily driven, but overall, I think it’s taking a big step… and certainly we were very pleased to see that services are being recognized as important in this process in order to make this a meaningful benefit,” Pilch said.
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