05.08.15

SCHUMER: VETERANS WAITING TO BE FITTED FOR HEARING AIDS EXPERIENCE LONG WAIT TIMES BECAUSE OF A LACK OF SPECIALISTS – SCHUMER LAUNCHES PUSH TO ALLOW VA CENTERS TO HIRE LICENSED HEARING AID SPECIALISTS TO DECREASE WAIT TIMES & BETTER SERVE VETS

Currently, Only Licensed Audiologists Are Authorized to Issue and Fit Veterans for Hearing Aids at VA Facilities, But Small Number of These Professionals in the Field Leads to Excruciating Wait Times for Vets

Schumer Says Licensed Hearing Aid Specialists Should Also Be Allowed to Issue & Fit Vets Receiving Care at VA Centers for Hearing Aids, Alongside Audiologists – Schumer Is Pushing Legislation That Would Cut Through Bureaucratic Red Tape & Allow VA Facilities to Hire Hearing Specialists 

Schumer: Bill Would Help Thousands of Hearing-Impaired Veterans Get Faster, Higher-Quality Care at VA Centers

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced he is launching a push for legislation that would allow Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and centers to hire licensed hearing aid specialists in order to greatly improve the quality of care for hearing-impaired veterans. Schumer explained that, currently, only licensed audiologists are authorized to issue and fit hearing aids for the VA. However, there is a shortage of these professionals in the field, resulting in excruciating wait times for veterans looking to be fitted for hearing aids at their VA centers. Therefore, Schumer said he is championing the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act, which would allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to appoint licensed hearing aid specialists to VA hospitals. Schumer said the high volume of hearing loss cases at the VA hospitals has made it necessary to appoint these licensed specialists in order to help veterans receive a higher quality of care and to reduce wait times at VA facilities.

“It is inexcusable that the brave men and women in our armed services, many who lost some or all of their hearing while protecting the liberties we hold so dear, have to face such long wait times to get hearing aids when they return stateside. The last thing they should face are bureaucratic hurdles preventing them from getting hearing aids,” said Schumer. “This common sense legislation would cut through the red tape at the VA and give our hearing-impaired veterans the resource they so rightfully deserve. Our veterans took care of us when they served. Now it is time for us to take care of them. We have a moral obligation to pass this bill with strong bipartisan support and show our veterans that our support for them will never waiver.”

This legislation comes as hearing loss is quickly becoming one of the most frequent conditions reported by veterans when they return from duty. Schumer said the high volume of hearing loss cases and the shortage of licensed professionals creates long wait times and bureaucratic hurdles for veterans to clear before they can be seen by a specialist. Schumer said the bureaucratic nature of the VA prevents the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from appointing licensed hearing aid specialists to VA hospitals to issue and fit hearing aids.

As a result, Schumer said this legislation would give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that power and increase the number of qualified personnel who could fit and issue hearing aids. Currently, licensed hearing aid specialists largely practice in the private market, through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and in the states through Medicaid and state employee insurance program. By allowing these specialists to serve in VA hospitals, veterans would have increased access to high quality hearing healthcare without the bureaucratic hurdles and long wait times that come from the shortage of personnel. 

Schumer is co-sponsoring S. 564, the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act, with Senators Jerry Moran [R-KS], Jon Tester [D-MT], and Bill Cassidy [R-LA].

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