Headquarter's Report: Physicians Support the Audiology Patient Choice Act: Ask Your Physician Colleagues to Advocate for Audiology

An article aptly titled, “Senate bill would give audiologists big advantage over ENT,” published by the Association of Otolaryngology Administrators (AOA), effectively cites the real reason for opposition to the Audiology Patient Choice Act (H.R. 2276 and S. 2575) from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS).1

The article states, “S.2575 is being driven in part by persistent lobbying efforts from audiology groups, says Kevin Watson, administrator at Colorado ENT & Allergy in Colorado Springs. The bill is being marketed as a way to help patients, but it also effectively multiplies the competitive advantage of audiologists, whose reimbursement is tied closely to services like the sale and fitting of hearing aids, Watson says. ‘Right now 99% of ENT offices sell hearing aids. Chances are, right now if I’m an audiologist waiting for a Medicare patient to walk into my shop for a hearing aid, I’m not going to see that happen because they’re going to see an ENT for a referral and in that visit the ENT will give them hearing aids.’”

With the influx of 10,000 baby boomers into the Medicare system each and every day, the universe is more than big enough for standalone and ENT-housed audiology practices in an APCA future! The focus should be on delivering the best, most efficient services for the patient, and in doing so, success of the practice is assured.

Mr. Watson fails to recognize the benefits of the Audiology Patient Choice Act for ENT practices that employ audiologists. If H.R. 2276 and S. 2575 are enacted, ENT practices can make better use of both ENT and audiology provider resources, reduce duplicative services, and enhance productivity. If audiologists are properly recognized and reimbursed by Medicare for all the Medicare-covered services that they are licensed to provide, their associated ENT practices can achieve desired patient outcomes in a more sustainable fashion.

Below is a letter, written by Dr. James Lin of Kansas, which perfectly illustrates this point. His strong support of the Audiology Patient Choice Act is grounded in evidence-based practice, which avoids waste, prioritizes quality and access, and seeks to eliminate unnecessary delays in patient care.

At the time of this writing, the Audiology Patient Choice Act enjoys the documented support of two physician legislators, including the lead Republican Senate co-sponsor, Dr. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist.

As we all know, audiology professional organizations are oftentimes not adequately representing the views of members when it comes to the Audiology Patient Choice Act. The same holds true for medical societies as well!

Now is the time to ask your physician friends and colleagues to advocate for their patients by advocating for the Audiology Patient Choice Act! Ask them to write, call, and visit members of Congress so that their voices are heard on this issue!    
1 Association of Otolaryngology Administrators. Senate bill would give audiologists big advantage over ENT. The ENT Voice. Volume 3, Issue 4. April 2018. Accessed on May 27, 2018.