The University became the first University or college to issue an endorsement of a federal bill – HR 5304 , the Audiology Patient Choice Act – that, if enacted, will grant audiologists limited licensed physician (LLP) status within Medicare, allow Medicare patients direct access to audiologists and, as a comprehensive Medicare benefit, give recognition to the profession of audiology so that it is recognized within the full scope of practice.
The endorsement, signed by Salus President Michael H. Mittelman, OD, MPH, Provost Janice Scharre, OD and Osborne College of Audiology (OCA) Dean Victor H. Bray, PhD, states that HR 5304 will “bring about a much needed modernization in the way audiology services are available to Medicare beneficiaries.”
The bill is a bi-partisan effort of US Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and has the full support of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA). In late September, ADA members staged a “fly-in” to Washington, DC, where they met with staffers of Congressional members. Federal health insurance for members of Congress and their staffs does not require a referral from a primary care physician before seeing an audiologist.
The goal of making audiology an autonomous profession with LLP status on a par with other, frontline healthcare doctoring professions such as optometry, dentistry, podiatry, was one of great importance to the late Dr. George S. Osborne, the founding dean of the University’s audiology program. Dean Bray and the many OCA alumni who are working to gain supporters of the bill are confident that Dr. Osborne would be in the forefront of their efforts. With audiologists licensed in all 50 states to offer these services and with the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree the profession’s entry level degree, HR 5304 is the next logical step in elevating the profession.