(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.), and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) yesterday sent a letter urging Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to remove roadblocks that prevent Medicare beneficiaries with hearing loss from accessing audiology services.

“Medicare’s requirement for a physician order for audiology services creates an unnecessary barrier that prevents patients from accessing important hearing health services,” wrote the lawmakers. “Allowing Medicare beneficiaries direct access to audiologists in their communities could reduce the number of appointments and referrals needed before a patient receives needed health care, speed access to care, and could also offer beneficiaries more choices of local hearing health providers.”

Hearing loss is all too common -- 48 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss -- but access to hearing health services is not.

While Medicare covers a range of hearing health services -- including comprehensive hearing tests and evaluation of hearing, tinnitus, or balance disorders -- many Medicare beneficiaries experience difficulty accessing these services because of outdated regulations. Unlike most federal and private insurance providers, Medicare requires a physician order for coverage of audiology services provided by a qualified audiologist.

A signed copy of the letter is available here.