Congressman Tom Rice

Representing the 7th District of South Carolina

Rice, Cartwright, Jenkins Bill Would Help Medicare Patients Get Better Access to Audiology Services

May 2, 2017
Press Release
WASHINGTON – Representatives Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), and Lynn Jenkins (R- Kan.) today introduced the Audiology Patient Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would streamline an outdated Medicare policy by giving patients direct access to audiologists without requiring referral from a medical doctor.
 
“My goal is to create policies that give South Carolinians and all Americans access to high quality, efficient health care services under Medicare,” said Congressman Rice. “The Audiology Patient Choice Act will cut red tape and streamline policy so that Medicare patients can receive necessary care in a more convenient way.”
 
As the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) outlined today in their written testimony before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “The Audiology Patient Choice Act will modernize existing Medicare regulations that undermine access and affordability for many older Americans. Medicare Part B patients are … shuffled back and forth between providers in an inefficient process, because audiologists are only recognized under Medicare Part B as diagnosticians, despite the fact that they are licensed to provide Medicare‐covered rehabilitative services. [This bill], if enacted, will alleviate many of these barriers within the Medicare system, and allow Medicare Part B beneficiaries to have the same access to audiology care as Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and most Americans do.”
 
“The bipartisan Audiology Patient Choice Act improves seniors’ access to safe, quality care,” said Congressman Cartwright. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on this commonsense legislation.”
 
“Medicare users, who are suffering from a hearing disorder, should be able to receive medical attention from an audiologist of their choosing without any hoops to jump through,” said Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. “The Audiology Patient Choice Act will help solve this particular issue by allowing our seniors to directly choose their audiologist without a written recommendation from a medical doctor. This will create more choices and freedoms for our seniors – a commonsense, bipartisan solution.”
 
BACKGROUND
 
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hearing loss is the third‐most common chronic physical condition among adults in the United States and is twice as likely as diabetes or cancer. In addition to removing barriers for Medicare Part B patients, the Audiology Patient Choice Act also helps address the medical doctor workforce shortage confronting our country by helping to meet the increasing demand for health care services by the growing Medicare population. The Audiology Patient Choice Act would allow Medicare Part B patients to be given the same care provided by most private insurance plans and other federal health plans, including Medicare Advantage, without increasing per-patient costs to the Medicare system.  
 
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