The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Rockville, Md, has announced its support of the Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act of 2015 (HR 1116) that was introduced on February 26. The bill would provide Medicare beneficiaries greater access to audiology services and would increase opportunities for audiologists to treat patients.

The bill was introduced by US Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and co-sponsored by Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). According to ASHA, the proposed legislation is intended to give Medicare beneficiaries access to audiologists for both diagnostic and treatment services similar to those already available from other practitioners. ASHA says the bill aligns audiologists with the managed-care direction of healthcare, and has a negligible impact on costs to the healthcare system—a feature that ASHA hopes will help the bill to pass.

“This bill would grant Medicare patients coverage for the full range of professional services provided by audiologists,” said ASHA President Judith L. Page, PhD, CCC-SLP. “ASHA has been tirelessly working to expand access to audiology services available under Medicare, and we applaud Congressman Bilirakis for his leadership.”

The Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act would allow audiologists to bill for hearing and balance assessment services, auditory treatment services (including auditory processing and auditory rehabilitation treatment), vestibular treatment, and intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring. Also, the proposed bill would provide Medicare coverage of comprehensive audiology services in coordination with current billing and reimbursement standards, consistent with other non-physician services covered by Medicare.

Previous coverage detailing the introduction of the Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act can be found in a Hearing Review article that ran in June of 2013, as well as a July 2013 blog post about differing strategies on audiology legislation.

Source: ASHA