As a fellow audiologist and member of ASHA, I am writing to let you know about some disturbing developments happening within the hearing aid dispensing profession at the State and Federal levels. Hearing aid dispensers are trying to drastically expand their scope of practice and this will potentially cause harm to patients.
Hearing aid dispensers are only required to have a GED in most states, yet lawmakers are being led to believe that dispensers are qualified to interpret tests, refer for cochlear implants, rehab and medical intervention, determine candidacy for tinnitus management, provide tinnitus management, and administer cerumen management. All this without the supervision of an audiologist!
Please read this quote from the International Hearing Society's Executive Director:
"Contrary to outdated and inaccurate perceptions hearing aid specialists do not simply fit and 'sell' hearing aids, but are full-fledged hearing care providers. As they move into independent practice, hearing aid specialists typically have as much, if not more experience performing hearing evaluations and fitting and dispensing hearing aids than an average new AuD program graduate."
–Kathleen Mennillo, Executive Director, International Hearing Society
We need your help TODAY!*
This used to be a state issue, but now we're seeing this 'scope creep' at the federal level. Recently, some Congressmen introduced legislation that would allow for the appointment of hearing aid specialists to the Veterans Health Administration, believing that this legislation would address problems associated with long wait times for hearing aids and hearing health care services. The International Hearing Society is financing this campaign.
But the VA already has the authority to hire hearing aid specialists as technicians that work under the direction of an audiologist. This legislation is a Trojan Horse designed to expand their scope in other parts of the federal government and throughout the country. They seek to position themselves as the provider of choice for dispensing hearing aids.
Your profession, practices, and patients' safety are at stake! Please help ASHA-PAC fight this overreach TODAY!
I encourage you to support ASHA-PAC. ASHA-PAC is the strongest tool we have to combat legislation that threatens our profession and the wellbeing of our patients. Please contribute to ASHA-PAC today.
Julie Verhoff, Au.D., Ph.D., CCC-A
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association