July 24, 2023
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Dr. Rand Paul, Sens. Warren, Grassley Renew Push for the Medicare Audiology Access Improvement Act

Legislation would Expand Seniors’ Access to Hearing Services by Reclassifying Audiologists as Practitioners in the Medicare program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently, United States Senators, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) led their colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Medicare Audiology Access Improvement Act, legislation to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare are able to access  a full range of hearing and balance health care services provided by licensed audiologists, who are trained and licensed in all 50 states and U.S. territories, including the District of Columbia. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Angus King (I-Maine).

Hearing loss affects over 48 million Americans. Though Medicare already covers a range of hearing health services, Medicare currently does not recognize audiologists as providers and will only allow reimbursement for a narrow set of tests to diagnose a hearing or balance disorder – and only if patients first obtain an order from a physician or nurse practitioner.

“Our legislation gets government out of the decision-making process so Americans can seek treatment from audiologists more quickly, easily, and affordably,” said Dr. Rand Paul. “It proves Congress can come together across the aisle to find solutions to improve our health care system.”

“Outdated Medicare rules make it difficult for seniors with hearing loss to gain access to the critical services audiologists provide,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m glad to be partnering with my colleagues in the Senate to reduce barriers to care and ensure that older Americans and people with disabilities have access to the full range of care they need.”

“I’m proud to have improved access to high-quality and affordable hearing aids by shepherding the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Act through Congress in 2017 and holding the U.S. Food & Drug Administration accountable to implement the law,” said Senator Chuck Grassley. “I’ve seen firsthand the importance of accessing audiology services, which is why I’m glad to support this bill to make it easier for seniors to get help from an audiologist.”

Specifically, the Medicare Audiology Access Improvement Act:

  • Amends the definition of “audiology services” in the Medicare statute, which specifies the services that audiologists may provide, to include all services already covered by Medicare that are also within an audiologist’s scope of practice;
  • Amends the Medicare definition of practitioner to include audiologists, which improves beneficiary access to audiologic and vestibular care, a change that is consistent with Medicare’s classification of similar health care providers such as clinical social workers and clinical psychologists;
  • Makes technical changes to remove the pre-treatment order requirement, which does not exist with any other federal or commercial payer;
  • Ensures seniors and people with disabilities can receive the full scope of audiology services covered by Medicare at Rural Health Centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers; and
  • Makes no changes to the scope of hearing health benefits covered by Medicare or the scope of practice of audiologists.

You can read the full text of the Medicare Audiology Access Improvement Act HERE.



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