House Bill Seeks Medicare Coverage for Hearing Aids

House Bill Seeks Medicare Coverage for Hearing Aids

Editor: Here’s an article from the October 19 edition of NVRC News (Thanks Cheryl!) about a House bill that seeks Medicare coverage for hearing aids. It sounds like it’s probably not going to happen this year. But maybe soon???

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Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL), who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, recently introduced H.R. 2934 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Called the Medicare Aural Rehabilitation and Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2001, it would provide Medicare coverage for aural rehabilitation services by audiologists and hearing aids for seniors with hearing loss.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has worked with Rep. Foley to help shape the legislation to ensure that aural rehabilitation and hearing aid-related services by audiologists were also included. While Medicare involvement with hearing aids is controversial among audiologists, recent survey data indicates that the majority of audiologists are in favor of federal support for hearing aids for seniors.

Although the budget impact of Medicare coverage of hearing aids will likely prevent the legislation from being passed by Congress in the near term, ASHA believes coverage of aural rehabilitation services is a worthy goal.

Covered services under H.R. 2934 include: a comprehensive audiologic assessment; fitting and adjustments to the hearing aids; instruction on the use of the hearing aids; and aural rehabilitation including counseling on hearing loss, speech reading and auditory training.

Currently, Medicare is specifically prohibited from paying for hearing aids by federal law. H.R. 2934 would repeal this prohibition and add hearing aids to the list of covered durable medical equipment. H.R. 2934 would provide new hearing aids every three years as needed by Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation also would allow audiologists to balance bill for devices beyond what Medicare would agree to pay. For more information, contact Reed Franklin via email at rfranklin@asha.org or at 800-498-2071, ext. 4473 or Jim Potter via email at jpotter@asha.org or ext. 4125. (Thanks to Tom Frank and Arva Priola)