On May 21, U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) reintroduced the Audiology Patient Choice Act (H.R. 2519), which would add audiologists to the list of physicians recognized by Medicare and eliminate the physician order requirement for audiological evaluations.
The bill, originally introduced July 31, 2014, came out of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA)’s 18x18 initiative, which calls for the amendment of Title XVIII of the Social Security Act by 2018 to allow for the changes included in the legislation.
H.R. 2519 won't expand or add services to the Medicare program or modify an audiologist's scope of practice, but it would authorize Medicare to reimburse audiologists for currently covered services that they are already licensed to provide. The legislation also won't affect state licensure requirements for audiology practice.
“Medicare really has not kept pace with best practices for the delivery of hearing and balance care,” said Eric Hagberg, AuD, ADA advocacy chair, in an interview with The Hearing Journal (HJ) when Reps. Jenkins and Cartwright first introduced the bill (HJ October 2014 issue, p. 8http://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Fulltext/2014/10000/New_Legislation_Would_Grant_Limited_License.2.aspx).
“The healthcare delivery models of the future are being designed to ensure that every practitioner is working to his or her full scope of practice. It's so important that we do this so we achieve patient-centered care that is also cost-effective.”
The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery (AAO–HNS) opposed the legislation when it was initially introduced, and the American Speech– Language–Hearing Association (ASHA) did not endorse it.
The Audiology Patient Choice Act has received endorsements from about 30 other state and national organizations representing audiologists and patients, including the American Academy of Audiology (AAA).
The AAA also is committed to the Access to Hearing Healthcare Act (H.R. 4035, S. 2046), which was introduced in February 2014 and would eliminate the physician order requirement for Medicare patients seeing an audiologist. This bill was endorsed by the ADA as well.
“We believe that the reciprocal endorsement of our respective legislative initiatives sends a strong message to our memberships, the audiology community at large, and members of Congress that the two associations have analogous objectives,” AAA President Erin Miller, AuD, previously told HJ (HJ January 2015 issue, p. 34http://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Fulltext/2015/01000/AAA_Supports_Bill_for_Autonomous_Audiology.8.aspx).