April 24, 2019

Senators Warren Leads Colleagues in Calling on CMS Administrator Seema Verma to Remove Regulations that Restrict Access to Hearing Health Services

Text of the letter (PDF)


Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and United States Representatives Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.), and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) yesterday sent a letter urging Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to remove roadblocks that prevent Medicare beneficiaries with hearing loss from accessing audiology services.


“Medicare’s requirement for a physician order for audiology services creates an unnecessary barrier that prevents patients from accessing important hearing health services,” wrote the lawmakers. “Allowing Medicare beneficiaries direct access to audiologists in their communities could reduce the number of appointments and referrals needed before a patient receives needed health care, speed access to care, and could also offer beneficiaries more choices of local hearing health providers.”


Hearing loss is all too common -- 48 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss -- but access to hearing health services is not.


While Medicare covers a range of hearing health services -- including comprehensive hearing tests and evaluation of hearing, tinnitus, or balance disorders -- many Medicare beneficiaries experience difficulty accessing these services because of outdated regulations. Unlike most federal and private insurance providers, Medicare requires a physician order for coverage of audiology services provided by a qualified audiologist.


Senator Warren and Senator Paul are also the lead sponsors of the Audiology Patient Choice Act, a bill first introduced in 2018 to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have access to a full range of hearing and balance health care services provided by licensed audiologists.