Current Status: Organizations representing audiology recently announced a collaborative agreement to develop and advance federal legislation that would grant audiologists "direct access" to Medicare patients, eliminating the long-standing physician referral requirement. For patient safety reasons, the Academy has strongly opposed similar legislative proposals since hearing and balance disorders are medical conditions that require a full patient history, physical examination, and diagnosis by an MD/DO. The AAO-HNS anticipates the legislation will be formally introduced in the 116th U.S. Congress in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for future updates and grassroots "Calls to Action."
Please see below for the Academy's advocacy efforts on this issue in the 115th Congress (2017-2018).
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 115th Congress:
- The AAO-HNS opposes H.R. 2276, the “Audiology Patient Choice Act of 2017,” which would provide audiologists with unlimited “direct access” to Medicare patients without a physician referral, and/or inappropriately include audiologists in Medicare’s definition of “physician.”
- Companion legislation, the "Audiology Patient Choice Act," (S. 2575) was introduced for the first time in the U.S. Senate in March 2018 by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rand Paul (R-KY).
Click here to read the AAO-HNS letter opposing H.R. 2276.
Click here to read the organizational sign-on letter opposing H.R. 2276.
Click here to read the organizational sign-on letter opposing S. 2575.
For more information regarding federal audiology legislation, contact email@example.com.