HLAA is thrilled to announce that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act of 2021 (H.R. 5376) on November 19, 2021. The Build Back Better Act of 2021 includes the expansion of Medicare to cover hearing aids and services.
HLAA has spent years supporting the idea of Medicare coverage of hearing aids and hearing health services. This year, HLAA spent our time since the spring in talks with members of Congress and key committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate, encouraging them to vote YES! to expand Medicare to include hearing aids and services. That would mean for the first time, seniors who rely on Medicare to pay their medical bills would also be able to turn to Medicare to cover the cost of hearing aids and related services. We are happy to report that the U.S. House of Representatives listened!
HLAA advocated for:
- Coverage should be for people with moderately severe to profound hearing loss. Keep in mind that cochlear implants are already reimbursed by Medicare. This made it into the House bill.
- Hearing aids and services should be provided by audiologists and hearing aid specialists to perform those services legally authorized under state law (or the state regulatory mechanism provided by state law). This made it into the House bill, too.
In the months leading up to passage of the bill, HLAA was there to provide the advocacy and education Congress needed to draft the bill. This is a big deal for seniors.
HLAA is thrilled the U.S. House of Representatives has passed this bill. There is a long legislative process ahead and HLAA will keep pushing for this coverage.
What Made it into the Final House Bill?
The provisions for hearing aid and hearing health care coverage include:
This legislation also contains certain limitations, such as covering hearing aids – one per ear – not more than once during a 5-year period, only for hearing aids that are not over-the-counter hearing aids, for people with moderately severe, severe, or profound hearing loss. These hearing aids can be furnished by a written order of a physician, an audiologist or a hearing aid specialist.
Making it Over the Finish Line
The Build Back Better Act does not become law until both Houses come to agreement on the final language. Write to your U.S. Senators to urge them to include Medicare coverage of hearing aids and hearing health care services with a bill that mirrors the one passed by the House. There is still time to push this to the finish line! We can get this done!