Let Me Hear From You
Access to Hearing Health Care—A Collective Call to Action
Last month, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Access to Hearing Health Care Act (H.R. 4035/S. 2046), on behalf of the American Academy of Audiology. If passed, this legislation would eliminate the need for Medicare patients to obtain a physician order prior to seeing an audiologist.
Direct access would improve access to quality hearing health care for Medicare beneficiaries while increasing autonomy for audiologists. Perhaps even more importantly, in the current congressional climate, results of the Academy-commissioned cost analysis, conducted by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, support anecdotal claims by audiologists that such access will offer significant cost savings to the current system. This type of evidenced-based financial information is critically important to our budget-conscious federal government.
The continuity of our direct access legislative initiative over the past several congressional sessions reflects the Academy’s mature and respected presence on Capitol Hill, and now presents us with a unique opportunity. The sponsorship of this legislation by Congressman McDermott is particularly exciting because of his background as an MD, as well as his position as the ranking member of the U.S. House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health, a committee which has jurisdiction over this issue in the U.S. House. Senator Brown’s leadership is noteworthy as he is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, the committee with oversight on this issue in the U.S. Senate. The Academy leadership, staff, and professional advocacy consultants, have carefully and strategically developed this direct access legislation to maximize achievability and have positioned us well to move this initiative forward.
So what remains for us to do at this point? We need your help to advance this legislation.One of the biggest challenges to passing any legislation is to motivate constituents to make their voices heard. If we think this effort is important, then we must voice that sentiment to our respective representatives loudly and clearly.
Collectively, we must:
- Visit the Academy’s Legislative Action Center and urge our representatives to support H.R. 4035/S. 2046, the Access to Hearing Health care Act.
- Ask our state audiology organizations to endorse this legislation; more information and a sample letter is available here. Also, sign up to receive government relations updates on Twitter. Contact Melissa Sinden, senior director of government relations with any questions.
- Contribute to the American Academy of Audiology Inc., PAC. Your contributions help to ensure the success of legislation that benefits audiology and Medicare patients.
Over the long haul, whether are successful or not will come down to the effort we put forth collectively. As adept as they are, members of the Academy’s Government Relations Committee, advocacy staff, and professional consultants cannot do this heavy lifting for us alone. Your efforts will directly impact this initiative, and if we want this measure of autonomy, we must collectively make the effort to ensure our voices are heard.
And don’t forget, if you haven’t registered for AudiologyNOW! 2014 in sunny (and warm!) Orlando, Florida, it’s time to do so. With our new legislation before the Congress and a host of other advocacy efforts that the Academy is pursuing (to see the extensive list of other initiatives on which the Academy has been hard at work on your behalf, visit the Government Relations News page of the Academy’s Web site), our convention is the perfect time and place to review, discuss, and collectively support advocacy efforts. Don’t miss this year’s unique convention opportunities to make your voice heard. Discuss current professional issues with your leaders at our inaugural “Open Meeting” on Tuesday afternoon, and join the roundtable discussions with Board members at the Business Meeting and take part in the all new “Great Debate,” both on Saturday morning. Meet, connect, communicate, and advocate…collectively, at AudiologyNOW! 2014!