Audiology colleagues, what do you want audiology to be in one, five, ten or 20 years? What directions do we need to explore as practitioners and as a profession to help more hearing and balance impaired individuals, improve prevention and protection, and expand our role and status in healthcare?
In order to change our trajectory, audiologists need to get INVOLVED and donate time and treasure to the audiology cause. It is all of our responsibilities to engage and support our profession. We do not give enough in membership dues, at either the state or national levels, to cover the required costs of advocacy and awareness initiatives. Also, we have to change the paradigm where 1% of audiologists are donating 90% of the time and money needed to move audiology forward. This figure needs to change for us to see true success.
How do we move the needle and change the course?
The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA; HR 4056/S 2446) is a huge opportunity for audiologists. It would reclassify audiologists as practitioners (rather than suppliers) within the Medicare system, allow for Medicare coverage of medically necessary treatment and rehabilitative services, and remove the traditional Medicare physician order requirement. This is a HUGE step towards expanding our role in hearing and balance care, while not expanding our scope of practice, and illustrating our value in patient outcomes. It is important for EVERY audiologist to write their congressperson and senators and ask them to support these bills. Here are the easiest ways to contact your legislators and ask them to support MAASA (please click below):
Audiologists also need to donate to their national associations’ political action committees (PAC) and advocacy funds and initiatives. If every audiologist donated at least $100 a year to federal advocacy, audiology would have a $1.5 million in PAC funds. Think of what we could try to accomplish!
We also need to be proactive in joining our state associations and getting involved in order to address our licensure and regulations and their accompanying challenges. We need to confirm how state licensure addresses the health screenings required by the Medicare Merit Based Incentive Payment Stems, telemedicine, and evaluation and management by an audiologist. Hearing instrument dispensers are also continually trying to expand their scope into that of an audiologist but without commensurate training and academic education. We must be diligent in order to protect consumers and the profession from underqualified individuals attempting to practice aspects of audiology, including immittance, evoked potentials, tinnitus, cerumen removal and cochlear implant candidacy and management. In order for changes to occur at the state level, we need audiologists to volunteer for their state associations and need every audiologist in a state to give at least $100 per year towards state advocacy. Think of what those monies could mean to a state association! This helps determine if you can afford a lobbyist or not.
Finally, we have to always support AUDIOLOGY and audiology awareness initiatives. We need to constantly promote our profession in our communities, in our marketing, and in our actions. We need to show that we are so much more than merely a device. We want consumers to