Hearing loss is estimated to affect up to 50 million Americans. When left untreated, hearing loss impacts more than just the ability to communicate. Studies have shown hearing loss can impact one’s mental health, cause cognitive problems, increase anxiety levels, and more. Fortunately, treating hearing loss can positively affect one’s quality of life and overall wellness. However, ongoing costs associated with treating hearing loss, including hearing assessments and hearing aid devices, can sometimes be quite costly and often deter people from seeking help.
Financial assistance, through private and federal insurance coverage, helps to make treatment more affordable, and Medicare covers a range of hearing care services. However, Medicare does not recognize audiologists as providers of many hearing-related services even though audiologists in the United States are licensed and trained to perform these services. Luckily, the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019 (S.2446) aims to change that.
What is the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act?
The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act, also known as MAASA, is a piece of bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July, 2019. The proposed law will allow for direct access to audiology services, without the need for a referral by a physician. It will allow audiologists to provide the full range of services that they are trained and licensed to offer - rather than just diagnostics. Lastly, it will change the status of audiologists within Medicare from “supplier” to “practitioner.”
MAASA is supported by representatives from a variety of states, and the legislation has also been endorsed by the Hearing Loss Association of America, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology.
How Would MAASA Help?
MAASA would remove barriers that have been deemed unnecessary. It would give patients the ability to receive timely, appropriate and cost-effective audiologic care and streamline Medicare coverage policies.
“Moving this legislation forward is imperative
in ensuring that older Americans receive the hearing health and balance care coverage they need,” explained the American Academy of Audiology President Lisa Christensen, Au.D.
She continued, “the Veterans Health Administration has affirmed that its direct access policy is cost-effective… This legislation aligns with Medicare and the VHA and other federal programs as well as implements the recommendation from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine regarding Medicare coverage of audiological treatment.”
Treating a hearing loss can have life-changing benefits. That is why it’s important to ensure that patients have access to the services that they need to facilitate their treatment. MAASA is a great step forward to ensure Medicare patients can get the help that they need. Read more about MAASA here.
If you would like to support this legislation, the Academy of Doctors of Audiology’s letter campaign makes it easy for you to make your voice heard. Click here to learn more.
Have Questions? Need Help? Contact Us Today!
If you’d like to discuss further, or if it is time for you to book a hearing assessment, get in touch. The hearing care professionals at Hearing Balance & Speech Center would be happy to help. Request an appointment online.