On May 19, 2021, US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA) of 2021, along with Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Representatives Tom Rice (R-SC) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced identical legislation (H.R. 1587) in the House of Representatives. Since its introduction on March 3rd, the House bill has already secured 32 bipartisan cosponsors, following significant bipartisan support during the 116th Congress.

Related article: AAA, ADA, and ASHA Announce Support for ‘MAASA’ 2021

The American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) announce their endorsement of this legislation as a “top priority to ensure expedient and optimal hearing and balance health care for older adults.”

According to the organizations’ announcement, “MAASA will improve outcomes for beneficiaries by allowing direct access to audiologic services and streamlining Medicare coverage policies so that audiologists can provide the full range of Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to their scope of practice.” The legislation would also reclassify audiologists as practitioners, which is consistent with other Medicare recognized nonphysician providers. By classifying audiologists as practitioners under Medicare, audiologists would be able to furnish services through telehealth permanently, which is only partially permitted during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.

“It seems to me that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to reconsider bureaucratic limitations to health care-including hearing care. So, I believe that the Senate should prioritize the passage of our bill to help seniors get the care that they need,” said Warren.

The organizations invite all members of the audiology community to join them for a town hall event “Securing the Future of Audiology: Collaboration in Action,” on Wednesday, May 26th, at 7:00 PM EDT.

During this interactive session, volunteer leaders from each organization will discuss “the urgent need and unprecedented opportunity to align Medicare coverage policies with evidence-based practices in the delivery of audiology services in the 117th Congress.” Panelists will provide an overview of the current health policy landscape and implications for initiatives such as MAASA that are designed to streamline Medicare beneficiary access, support Medicare system efficiencies, and improve clinical outcomes. The town hall event will help participants “gain a deeper understanding of MAASA, why its enactment is crucial for advancing patient care and the profession of audiology, and how every audiologist can take action to build support for its passage.” Attendees will receive information, resources, and templates that they can use immediately to advocate for the bill.

AAA, ADA, and ASHA thank Senators Warren and Paul, and Representatives Rice and Cartwright, for championing this legislation and leading efforts to ensure that America’s seniors have timely and robust access to hearing and balance care provided by audiologists.

Register now for Securing the Future of Audiology: Collaboration in Action!

Source: AAA, ADA, ASHA