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Important Information on the Hearing Services Program Review

Mar 6, 2024

 

The Department of Health and Aged Care has begun a year long review of the Hearing Services Program. As part of this process they have kicked off a planned series of consultations with hearing sector clients in February with an initial survey requesting feedback on proposed improvements including changes to the Schedule of Service Items and Fees, arrangements for repairs and maintenance, and eligibility criteria

As clinicians and business owners, some of you will have received an invitation to participate in this survey via the Program’s website by 2 April. Significant in their scope, these changes are of critical importance and we encourage those of you invited to provide feedback.

 

About the Proposed Changes

In the consultation papers, the Department notes that “While a fee structure has not yet been developed, these changes are designed to be cost neutral to Providers, while making the program much simpler to administer and deliver. Service Providers will not be worse off.”  Nonetheless, members of the Hearing Health Sector Alliance, including Audiology Australia, have expressed concern that the lack of financial details compromises our assessment of the possible impact of the changes on the financial viability of providers and your capacity as audiologists to maintain clinical service delivery.

Overall, the proposed changes simplify many of the current HSP claims, reducing the number of claim items from over 50 to 10. Maintenance agreements will no longer be required, and a new ‘Lost Device Declaration Form’ will replace the Statutory Declaration.

There is more information needed regarding several of the proposed changes including:

  • The change to 4FAHL MHLT eligibility criteria, in the absence of any further detail, including setting the new threshold.
  • Separating the follow-up from the fitting claim and moving to a 6–12-week follow-up, negatively impacting clinical care
  • Removing the co-payment for hearing devices, introduced by the Department as an incentive for clients to value their devices.
  • A proposed new $100 remote control cap which will not cover most current remote controls and limit client choice.
  • The removal of 610/810 items, without further explanation on the management of non-routine clients.

While there are many benefits to what is proposed, though streamlined process and consolidation of Service categories, it is important that audiologists and business owners understand the potential impacts to quality care and business outcomes. I encourage members to review the proposed changes from the perspective of client outcomes, professional clinical practice, and the viability for business owners.

 

Important Reading

You can find more about these changes in the article and table created by Hearing Health Sector Alliance Chair, Jane MacDonald below. This will feature in the next edition of Audiology Now out after 18 May..

Download Here