Bill Seeks Expanded Audiology Access Legislation recently introduced into Congress would provide Medicare coverage for hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation services for seniors with hearing loss. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) introduced the Medicare Hearing Enhancement and Auditory Rehabilitation (HEAR) Act of 2007, H.R. 1912, on April 18. “Rep. Bilirakis has demonstrated vital leadership in advancing ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   May 01, 2007
Bill Seeks Expanded Audiology Access
Author Notes
  • Elizabeth Mundinger, director of federal and political advocacy, can be reached at emundinger@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 4473.
    Elizabeth Mundinger, director of federal and political advocacy, can be reached at emundinger@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 4473.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   May 01, 2007
Bill Seeks Expanded Audiology Access
The ASHA Leader, May 2007, Vol. 12, 1-19. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.12072007.1
The ASHA Leader, May 2007, Vol. 12, 1-19. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.12072007.1
Legislation recently introduced into Congress would provide Medicare coverage for hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation services for seniors with hearing loss. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) introduced the Medicare Hearing Enhancement and Auditory Rehabilitation (HEAR) Act of 2007, H.R. 1912, on April 18.
“Rep. Bilirakis has demonstrated vital leadership in advancing this important discussion on Medicare’s role in hearing loss among American seniors,” said Dennis Burrows, executive director of the Constance Brown Hearing Centers in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and ASHA vice president for quality of service in audiology.
“With more than 31 million Americans currently deaf or hard of hearing, and the impending influx of baby boomers who will be eligible for the Medicare program by the end of this decade,” Burrows noted, “our nation must begin to work through equitable coverage policies for hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation services by both public and private health plans.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults—a third of people older than 60 and half of those older than 85 have hearing loss. Hearing problems can make it difficult to understand and follow a doctor’s instructions, respond to warnings, and hear doorbells and alarms. Hearing loss can also make it hard to enjoy social interactions. All of these difficulties can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous.
Under current federal law, Medicare is specifically prohibited from paying for hearing aids. H.R. 1912 would repeal this prohibition and direct the secretary of health and human services to develop coverage policies based on other federal hearing aid programs, such as those of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense through its TRICARE health program.
H.R. 1912 also would provide Medicare coverage for auditory rehabilitation services so that Medicare beneficiaries may receive the ongoing care needed to optimize their hearing with the use of a hearing aid.
“The Medicare HEAR legislation recognizes the critical value of audiologists, in addition to the hearing aids themselves,” Burrows said. “Without auditory rehabilitation services, consumers will not get the full benefit of their hearing aids.”
“ASHA has a very active commitment to making hearing aids accessible to the public,” Noma Anderson, ASHA president observed. “ASHA looks forward to working closely with Rep. Bilirakis to make hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation services more available to seniors who need them.”
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May 2007
Volume 12, Issue 7