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Respond to the Attack on Audiologists: Immediate Action Needed

Respond to the Attack on Audiologists: Immediate Action Needed

Call Your Representative and Senator Today to Support the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1665/
S. 2352) Direct Access Legislation

On March 10-11, 2008, a large contingent of physician organizations that oppose the Academy’s direct access legislation will be in Washington, DC, visiting with members of Congress. In their opposition to H.R. 1665/S. 2352, we’ve been made aware of a calculated campaign that includes unsubstantiated claims and requests to endorsing organizations to remove their support.

While we are not surprised by these actions, the good news is that the Academy is gaining momentum for support of this legislation; thus, those opposing our bill are taking notice.

The fact is we now have 80 co-sponsors in support of H.R. 1665—approximately 40% more than in the past Congress—and the list is steadily growing. We have a network of over 30 organizations representing a broad spectrum of support from professional, consumer, federal civilian, and military organizations with an interest in hearing health that have endorsed this legislation including the National Association of the Deaf, Hearing Loss Association of America, American Tinnitus Association, American Association of People with Disabilities, National Rural Health Association, Military Audiology Association, Academy of Federal Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists, and the Association of VA Audiologists. (See complete list below)

Take Action Today!
1) Tell Your Member of Congress
As an Academy member and constituent, you are the best person to educate your members of Congress on the impact of your profession and the importance of this legislation. Visit the Academy's Legislative Action Center and type in your zip-code to identify your members of Congress. After you have identified your representative and senators, you may call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected directly to their offices. Background information and talking points are included below.

You may also wish to call your representative or senators and thank them for being a co-sponsor of H.R. 1665/S. 2352. Click here for a current list of House co-sponsors. Click here for a current list of Senate co-sponsors.

It is extremely important that constituents contact the office, so they are able to see the support for this bill from audiologists in the district and counter the efforts by those organizations that will be meeting with these offices over the next two days! Please contact Kate Thomas (202-544-9336) about the response you receive from the office. Thank you for your continued efforts!

2) Tell Others
Write a "Letter to the Editor" to a local newspaper in your congressional district in support of the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act. Please view Sample Letter to the Editor.

Click on the Media Guide on the Academy Legislative Action Center for instructions on how to identify and select local newspapers in your district. Once you have made your selection (limited to 5 at once), please click on the “Compose Message” button. From there you can cut and paste your letter that will go directly to the newspaper(s) you selected.

Background
Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) introduced the bill, the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1665) in the House of Representatives. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) introduced the companion to the legislation (S. 2352) in the Senate. This legislation would give Medicare beneficiaries the option of going directly to a qualified audiologist or a physician for much needed hearing and balance testing. This legislation would simply eliminate the current requirement for a physician referral before seeing an audiologist for existing covered audiology services.

Talking Points to Consider

  • As an audiologist and constituent, I am calling to ask you to cosponsor the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2007 (H.R. 1665/S. 2352) introduced by Representative Mike Ross (D-AR) in the House and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) in the Senate. This legislation would give Medicare beneficiaries the option of going directly to a qualified audiologist or a physician for much needed hearing and balance testing. This legislation would simply eliminate the current requirement for a physician referral before seeing an audiologist for existing covered audiology services.
  • Currently hearing loss among the Medicare population is under-diagnosed and under-treated. If Medicare beneficiaries could go directly to an audiologist, more seniors with hearing loss would obtain the tests they need and the treatment to help them maintain independent lifestyles and continue to function in society. This legislation would improve Medicare beneficiaries' access to hearing care.
  • Members of Congress and federal employees can access audiologists directly through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Under the Medicare program, seniors should have the same choice to access audiologists for covered hearing and balance testing.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has allowed veterans to see audiologists directly since 1992 and has indicated that direct access to audiology services provides quality hearing health care and is "cost effective."
  • I hope you will support the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act in the 110th Congress. Please contact Kate Callanan (202-225-3772) in Representative Ross's office (House bill), or Jacqueline Lampert (202-224-5842) in Senator Johnson's office (Senate bill) to be a co-sponsor of this bill.
  • Please contact myself or Phil Bongiorno (202-544-9335), senior director of government relations for the American Academy of Audiology, should you have further questions. Thank you for your consideration of this important legislative initiative for Medicare beneficiaries with hearing loss.

Organizations Endorsing the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act

  • American Academy of Audiology
  • Academy of Audiology of Puerto Rico
  • Academy of Doctors of Audiology
  • Academy of Federal Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • American Board of Audiology
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • American Tinnitus Association
  • Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses
  • Association of VA Audiologists
  • California Academy of Audiology
  • Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Educational Audiology Association
  • Florida Academy of Audiology
  • Georgia Academy of Audiology
  • Hearing Loss Association of America
  • Illinois Academy of Audiology
  • Kentucky Academy of Audiology
  • Massachusetts Academy of Audiology
  • Military Audiology Association
  • Minnesota Academy of Audiology
  • National Association of the Deaf
  • National Association of Future Doctors of Audiology
  • National Black Association for Speech, Language and Hearing
  • National Court Reporters Association
  • National Cued Speech Association
  • National Hearing Conservation Association
  • National Rural Health Association
  • Ohio Academy of Audiology
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology
  • Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.
  • Texas Academy of Audiology