Let Me Hear from You
A Call to Action—Support Direct Access!
As you have heard, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, which, when passed, will allow Medicare eligible beneficiaries direct access to audiologists for hearing and balance evaluation and diagnosis. The legislation is titled The Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2011; House Resolution 2140 or H.R.2140. This legislation was introduced on the Academy’s behalf by Representative Mike Ross from the great state of Arkansas. The actual text of the legislation, and additional information, can be found on the Academy’s Web site. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read this legislation to become familiar with the content of the bill. Currently, there are 14 co-sponsors of this legislation. Rep. Ross and those 14 co-sponsors need your help. Our patients need your help. There are 435 representatives in the House and you are a constituent of one of them.
To ensure passage of the Direct Access legislation, we need you to contact your duly elected representative now. You can do this in less than five minutes (or more than likely, 30 seconds) by contacting your representative through the Legislative Action Center. After you get to the Web page, simply click on Ask your Representative to Support Direct Access Legislation in the 112th Congress!, read the Action Alert, and read the letter under “Take Action.” You can personalize the letter if you wish or use the letter as is. Fill in any Sender information requested and then click on Send Message at the bottom. Do this now before you finish reading the rest of my post…go ahead, I’ll wait.
Done? Terrific. You just participated in the democratic process and you helped your elected official to understand that by amending Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, Medicare beneficiaries will be provided greater choice in their access to hearing health services and benefits. This legislation has been introduced in prior congressional sessions but, as you know, these sessions last only two years and if a specific bill does not pass, it has to be re-introduced in the new congressional session. We have to go back to the representatives and inform them again that their constituents deserve a contemporary approach to access for hearing health services.
In addition to your direct support, your elected representative needs to hear from your patients. You can direct your patients to www.howsyourhearing.org for consumer-based information so they can become informed and then send their email in support of Direct Access. I mean, after all, your patients see you at work, they experience the competence of your expertise, they benefit from the safe and effective care you provide, and they vote. I think that is a pretty good formula to get the message across to the 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives.
If your elected representative has already co-sponsored the legislation, then please send him or her a thank you e-mail—you can use the same links listed above—we all like to hear thank you from time to time. If all 11,000+ of us link in to the Legislative Action Center and then we each get another 10 individuals to do the same—that is more than 100,000 contacts. We will get our message heard loud and clear. Send your e-mail right now. Direct Access is the right next move for audiology and the patients we serve. We have the power in our hands to direct our future. I think that’s reason enough to act.