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Senate Releases Text of Medicare Hearing Benefits

An Update from AAA, ADA, and ASHA

December 15, 2021

AAA, ADA, and ASHA have been working collaboratively to help shape congressional legislation that could add new hearing benefits to Medicare.

The Senate Finance Committee recently released its version of the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which passed in the House of Representatives last month. This bill contains several provisions critical to audiologists. Like the House bill, the Senate language [PDF] expands Medicare coverage of treatment services audiologists provide and reclassifies audiologists as “practitioners” under the Medicare statute. The Senate language also removes the physician order requirement that prevents Medicare beneficiaries from directly accessing services provided by audiologists, and provides greater clarity on the distinct roles and responsibilities of professions involved in the dispensing of hearing aids. Coverage of treatment services, removal of the physician order requirement, and “practitioner” status constitute the three core components of the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 1587/S. 1731), which AAA, ADA, and ASHA have been championing since 2019.

AAA, ADA, and ASHA have communicated strong support to House and Senate leaders [PDF] for including the audiology provisions in any final version of the Build Back Better Act and to express appreciation for the modifications that improve the other hearing provisions in the bill.

While a positive development, release of the Senate language is just the next step in the legislative process. It is unclear when the Senate may consider this bill, or whether there will be additional changes to its hearing provisions. AAA, ADA, and ASHA will continue working to ensure any new hearing benefits result in timely and robust access to services provided by audiologists, and will provide further updates on these advocacy efforts as the legislative process continues.

Questions?

Contact Josh Krantz, ASHA’s director of federal affairs, health care, at jkrantz@asha.org.


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