Audiology Patient Choice Act
Updated: Mar 29, 2019
What you should know
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) have introduced S.2575 - the Audiology Patient Choice Act - to the Senate. In short, this legislation will improve the access of hearing and balance services for millions of Medicare beneficiaries. The goal is to have streamlined access to safe, efficient care, with the opportunity to choose from all qualified audiologists.
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic disorder for Americans over 65, behind only arthritis and high blood pressure.
Nearly half of Americans over age 75 suffer from hearing loss.
Individuals with mild hearing loss are three times more likely to experience a fall. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for Americans over 65, as well as the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
Untreated hearing and balance problems contribute to and are highly correlated with depression and social isolation. Treatment reduces societal and financial costs.
Seniors with hearing loss run a much higher risk of cognitive problems and experience cognitive decline up to 40% faster than those with normal hearing.
Why a change in the Medicare system is needed
Medicare has not kept pace with changes in health care delivery models for diagnosing and treating hearing and balance disorders.
Patient access to care and choice of provider is limited, and the treatment process is inefficient.
Medicare’s archaic referral requirements must be modernized to allow seniors direct access to efficient, effective care.
What the Audiology Patient Choice Act will do
Remove existing barriers by allowing Medicare Part B patients to go directly to the audiologist, without requiring an order from a primary care provider
Allow seniors to have Medicare expanded access by provider for the full range of audiology health care services. These services are already covered under Medicare, in a piecemeal fashion, when delivered by other providers.
Classify audiologists as physicians under the Medicare program, which is the most appropriate taxonomy and is consistent with the classification for other non-medical doctor providers in the Medicare program, such as optometrists, podiatrists, dentists and chiropractors.
There is a clear connection between hearing health and overall cognitive and physical health. This legislation will bring Medicare in line with today’s best practices for the delivery of hearing and balance healthcare services and is likely to provide a net cost savings to the Medicare system by reducing unnecessary services.
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