Hearing Loss Association of America supports the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 3024). This legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries the option of going directly to a qualified audiologist for hearing and balance diagnostic tests. Currently, Medicare requires that beneficiaries with hearing loss or balance disorders obtain a physician referral before seeing an audiologist.
Direct access is not new: most insurance plans across the county allow patients to access audiology services directly without a physician referral. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has allowed veterans to see audiologists directly since 1992 and has indicated that direct access to audiology services is a cost effective means of ensuring quality-hearing health care. Members of Congress and federal employees may also access audiologists directly through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP).
HLAA believes beneficiaries in the Medicare program should have the same freedom to access audiologists for covered hearing and balance testing as those who are covered by other insurance plans.
To contact your member of Congress and voice your support for this bill, you can use the American Academy of Audiology’s Legislative Action Center to send an electronic letter to your Representative. There is a template for correspondence regarding direct access there.