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American Academy of Audiology Announces Introduction of Direct Access Legislation

(Washington, DC - June 25, 2009) -  The American Academy of Audiology is pleased to announce the introduction of H.R. 3024, the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2009 in the 111th Congress. This bill is identical to H.R. 1665 from last Congress and Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR) has taken the lead again this session, along with 13 original cosponsors. In the 110th Congress, H.R. 1665 garnered 108 cosponsors.

H.R. 3024 eliminates the need for Medicare patients to obtain a physician referral prior to visiting an audiologist for an evaluation. Currently our nation's veterans, through the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA), can receive an audiological exam without first obtaining a physician referral. Federal employees and members of Congress also have direct access to an audiologist. This bill would afford Medicare patients the same direct access to an audiologist.

The Academy has been in dialogue with leadership from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) regarding possible modifications to the direct access bill. While Congressman Ross has reintroduced the bill retaining the language from the previous Congress, Academy leadership is encouraged by the collaborative efforts of both groups. "We look forward to continued discussion with AAO-HNS on direct access and other relevant issues," said M. Patrick Feeney, PhD, Academy president.

Contact your representative to ask for support for H.R. 3024 by accessing the Academy's Legislative Action Center.

Last Congress, in addition to the American Academy of Audiology, the following organizations endorsed the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act and the Academy is hopeful for their support again this session:

Academy of Audiology of Puerto Rico * Academy of Doctors of Audiology * Academy of Federal Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists * American Association of People with Disabilities * American Board of Audiology * American Speech-Language-Hearing Association * American Tinnitus Association * Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loses * Association of VA Audiologists * California Academy of Audiology * Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders * Educational Audiology Association * Florida Academy of Audiology * Hearing Loss Association of America * Military Audiology Association * Minnesota Academy of Audiology * National Association of the Deaf * National Black Association for Speech, Language and Hearing * National Court Reporters Association * National Cued Speech Association * National Hearing Conservation Association * National Rural Health Association * Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology * Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. * Texas Academy of Audiology

The American Academy of Audiology, representing nearly 11,000 audiologists, is dedicated to providing quality hearing care services through professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders. To learn more about the audiology profession and how audiologists are helping the 36 million Americans who experience hearing loss, visit the Academy's Web site at www.audiology.org.

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