Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 1587 / S.1731)?
The three goals of this legislation are to:
- Improve access to qualified, licensed Medicare providers, by allowing seniors with a suspected hearing or balance disorder to seek treatment directly from audiologists, eliminating archaic medical doctor referral requirements.
- Allow patients to choose among qualified providers for Medicare-covered audiology services by authorizing Medicare to reimburse audiologists for the Medicare-covered services that they are licensed to provide. These services are already covered by Medicare when delivered by other providers.
- Address the medical provider workforce shortage confronting our country, while helping to meet the increasing demand for health care services by the growing Medicare population, through the inclusion of audiologists in the list of Medicare-recognized practitioners.
What about other insurers?
Other federal programs including the Veterans Administration and the Federal Health Benefit Plan already allow “direct access” to audiologists for beneficiaries as do most Medicare Advantage plans.
If Medicare recipients are allowed to seek treatment directly from an audiologist, will it pose a threat to patient safety?
There is no law that prohibits Medicare recipients from seeking evaluation and treatment directly from an audiologist today. In fact, they have been doing so for decades, without a threat to their safety. The issue addressed in the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act is merely a Medicare coverage issue, which has no impact on patient safety. Audiologic care can be provided to Medicare beneficiaries now. The issue is, that without the physician order, the patient is responsible for the cost of the services provided, even though the services are covered if delivered by another, often less convenient provider. Medicare law does not address scope of practice or licensure requirements for the provision of audiology services to older Americans.