J Am Acad Audiol 2020; 31(03): 174-175
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.31.3.1
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

A Balancing Act: The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 and the Treatment of Dizzy Patients

Devin L. McCaslin
Robert F. Burkard
Neil T. Shepard
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
24 May 2020 (online)

The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 (H.R. 4056) is bipartisan legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives on July 25, 2019, by Reps. Tom Rice (R-SC), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE). The bill, if passed, would enhance federal benefits for hearing and vestibular/balance health by providing Medicare beneficiaries direct access to both diagnostic and therapeutic services provided by audiologists.

Specifically, this legislation would: 1) give audiologists additional opportunities under Medicare with reclassification as “practitioners,” 2) allow for direct access by Medicare patients to audiologists, and 3) expand covered audiological services beyond diagnosis to include treatment. It is exciting that our three largest national organizations representing audiology—the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Academy of Audiology (the Academy) and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA)—came together to collaboratively endorse this bill.

The opportunity for patients with Medicare to directly access audiologists for diagnostic and treatment services would certainly improve hearing health care for these beneficiaries. There are also, however, many audiologists who assess and treat patients with balance disorders. In fact, 24 percent of the membership of the American Academy of Audiology identify themselves as routinely performing vestibular/balance assessments.