TMA Opposes Attempts to Expand Audiologists’ Scope
By David Doolittle

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Proposed federal laws that would give audiologists unlimited access to Medicare patients without a physician referral could lead to lasting, and expensive, harm to patients, medicine once again told U.S. Senate and House leadership this week.

The Texas Medical Association along with many national, state, and local medical societies, signed onto letters urging lawmakers to oppose the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2019, which was introduced last year.

The bills, also known as S. 2446 and H.R. 4056, also would give audiologists “practitioner” status under Medicare.

“While audiologists are valued health professionals who work for and with physicians, they do not possess the medical training necessary to perform the same duties as physicians, nor are they able to provide patients with the medical diagnosis and treatment options they require,” medicine’s letter said. “Notwithstanding the patient safety concerns associated with direct access, S. 2446 will create confusion regarding the qualifications and training of various health care providers.”

This is not the first time federal lawmakers have tried to expand audiologists’ scope under Medicare. And it’s not the first time medicine has pushed back.

TMA and more than 110 medical societies wrote to House leadership in 2014 opposing a similar measure that had been introduced that year. That bill never made it out of a House subcommittee.

Last Updated On

February 14, 2020

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David Doolittle

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Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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