Bill Would Improve Access to Medicare Audiology Services

The American Academy of Audiology (AAA), Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) have endorsed the Medicare Audiology Access Improvement Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation introduced recently that would provide seniors with more timely and robust access to services provided by audiologists.

The bill is an updated version of similar legislation introduced in previous Congresses that reflects input from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and would:

  • Provide Medicare coverage of both diagnostic and treatment services provided by audiologists starting in 2025.
  • Remove the physician order requirement so beneficiaries have improved access to audiologists.
  • Reclassify audiologists as practitioners under the Medicare statute, also enabling services to be furnished through telehealth beyond the current Dec. 31, 2024, expiration date.

Essentially this legislation would ensure that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to their scope of practice, just as they do under other programs and payers, so that seniors receive more appropriate, timely, and cost-effective audiologic care.

Similar legislation secured significant support in previous Congresses, most recently garnering 54 cosponsors in the House and eight in the Senate during the 117th Congress. Key provisions to allow reimbursement for treatment services and provide practitioner status were also included in legislation passed by the House in 2021.

Why audiologists?

Audiologists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in individuals of all ages.

They are designated by the credentials Au.D. This means they have earned a doctorate of audiology degree, having completed an undergraduate degree, usually in a related field. Then they complete additional coursework at an accredited doctoral-level audiology program, along with a year-long externship where the audiologist receives hands-on experience. Some audiologists also may earn a doctor of philosophy degree, designated by the credentials, Ph.D.

Following graduation from an accredited program, audiologists can diagnose, manage and treat hearing or balance problems for individuals from birth through adulthood including:

  • Test hearing and balance.
  • Recommend, service, and adjust prescription hearing aids.
  • Recommend and provide assistive listening devices (products to enhance telephone conversations, television viewing, etc.).
  • Provide tinnitus assessment and management.
  • Provide education regarding the effects of noise on hearing and prevention of hearing loss.
  • Deliver counseling and aural rehabilitation (counseling, education, auditory training/exercises).
  • Audiologists can make medical referrals to a physician when appropriate for issues such as ear pain, drainage from the ear, sudden hearing loss, cochlear implantation, etc.

To ensure they deliver the highest level of care, audiologists must be licensed or registered in the states where they practice. They also are required to pursue continuing education to stay up to date on the latest hearing and balance healthcare. Some audiologists even specialize in tinnitus or dizziness and balance disorders.

Local Experts

The Associated Audiologists team features 16 doctoral-level audiologists who use advanced diagnostic and verification technology to diagnose and treat hearing loss. Because we are an independent private practice with eight convenient locations, we can offer patients a wide range of digital hearing products from the world’s most respected manufacturers backed by unparalleled service. To be sure patients receive the maximum benefit from their hearing aids, we customize every recommendation we make to the patient’s specific hearing needs, goals and budget. All hearing aid fittings are verified using real ear and speech mapping.

Associated Audiologists supports the currently proposed legislation, which, if passed, will give seniors better access to the important hearing care they need and deserve.

Schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.