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Audiology Scope of Practice Issues

AAO-HNS Opposes Physician Status for Audiologists
On May 21, a “kitchen sink” audiology bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation (H.R. 2519), spearheaded by the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), is a continued aggressive attempt by some in the audiology community to achieve their goal of being recognized as the primary providers of hearing healthcare services. If enacted, H.R. 2519 would:

• Grant audiologists unlimited direct access to Medicare patients without a physician referral; and
• Amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to grant audiologists “limited license physician” status within the Medicare program.

Due to the advocacy efforts of the AAO-HNS, support for the direct access issue is waning on Capitol Hill. However, ADA continues to “up the ante” with its efforts to re-define a physician. The inclusion of “limited license physician” status in H.R. 2519 essentially ignores the physician referral and oversight requirements established by Medicare to control unnecessary costs and protect patient safety. While valued healthcare providers, audiologists are NOT physicians and their training is NOT equal to those with an MD/DO.

The AAO-HNS strongly opposes H.R. 2519 and urges its members to contact their U.S. Representatives via our legislative action alert.

• View AAO-HNS letter opposing H.R. 2519.

AAO-HNS Supports ASHA Legislation
On February 26, H.R. 1116, a comprehensive audiology benefit bill, was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with the support of the AAO-HNS. The "support" position of the Academy is the result of many months of discussions between the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the AAO-HNS prior to the bill first being introduced last Congress. However, the decision to support this legislation was not made lightly and represents recognition of the continually changing atmosphere within the healthcare delivery system. AAO-HNS leaders continue to believe the best course of action is to engage in productive conversations with the audiology community as a means to mitigate any truly egregious attempts at scope expansion. As a result of the continued strong working relationship with ASHA, H.R. 1116 retains physician referral requirements, does not permit direct access, and preserves existing state scope-of-practice laws.

For more information regarding federal audiology legislation, contact