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Bilirakis Sponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Seniors' Hearing Services

June 14, 2013
Press Release

“This important piece of legislation fixes an inequity that punishes both seniors and audiologists,” said Bilirakis “It also expands access to care for our seniors on Medicare and increases the choices they have when treating their hearing needs.”

Under current Medicare rules, seniors are unable to visit independent audiologists due to a payment structure that classifies these specialists differently based on their location. Even though they offer the same care, an in-practice audiologist for an ENT can bill services directly to Medicare under the ENT’s provider number. However, if the patient is referred to an independent audiologist, they cannot bill these services directly. The Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act will end this inequity and allow independent audiologists to directly bill Medicare.

“This bill is about expanding access to specialized care for our nation’s seniors,” said Congressman Butterfield. “Currently, only in-practice audiologists employed by an ENT can bill directly to Medicare using the ENT’s provider number, meaning seniors cannot go to the audiologist of their choice. Seniors seeking care from an independent audiologist cannot bill Medicare directly even though they provide the exact same services. Updating this policy will bring greater parity and provide seniors with greater access to care.”

The American Speech Language Hearing Association and American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery have already expressed their support.