Scope of Practice Issues

Current Status: Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2021: Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3, 2021, and the U.S. Senate on May 19, 2021

The AAO-HNS is strongly opposed to H.R. 1587 and S. 1731 which, if enacted, would:

  • Designate audiologists as “practitioners” under Medicare.
  • Allow audiologists direct access to Medicare beneficiaries without the current patient protections that require a physician referral.

This legislation stands in direct opposition to the AAO-HNS principles on the necessary treatment of the medical conditions associated with hearing loss or balance disorders. These long-standing principles include:

A physician-led hearing healthcare team, with coordination of services, is the best approach for providing the highest quality care to patients. Granting audiologists direct access to Medicare beneficiaries would remove existing physician referral requirements.

Hearing and balance disorders are medical conditions that require a full patient history and physical examination by an MD/DO.

While audiologists are valued health professionals who work for and with physicians, they do not possess the medical training necessary to perform the same functions as physicians, nor are they able to provide patients with the medical diagnosis and treatment options they deserve. For more information about how to contact your legislators and get involved, please visit www.entadvocacy.org.

Contact your lawmaker today!

Please see below for the Academy’s advocacy efforts on this issue in the 116th Congress (2019-2020).    

The AAO-HNS strongly believes a physician-led hearing healthcare team, with coordination of services, is the best approach for providing the highest quality care to patients. However, some in the audiology community continue to pursue legislation that would undermine the overall hearing healthcare team by removing existing physician referral requirements within the Medicare program and granting audiologists with “limited license physician” status within the Medicare program. Hearing and balance disorders are medical conditions that require a full patient history and physical examination by a Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). While audiologists are valued health professionals who work for and with physicians, they do not possess the medical training necessary to perform the same duties as physicians, nor are they able to provide patients with the medical diagnosis and treatment options they require. The AAO-HNS opposes any legislation that would allow audiologists to independently diagnose or treat the medical conditions associated with hearing loss.

  • Audiology-related legislation in the 116th Congress:
    • The AAO-HNS opposed H.R. 4056, the “Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019,” which would have provided audiologists with unlimited “direct access” to Medicare patients without a physician referral and inappropriately included audiologists in Medicare’s definition of “physician.”
    • The AAO-HNS opposed S. 2446, the “Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019,” which would have provided audiologists with unlimited “direct access” to Medicare patients without a physician referral and inappropriately included audiologists in Medicare’s definition of “physician.”

For more information regarding federal audiology legislation, contact [email protected].

AAO-HNS COVID-19 InformationLearn More