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Legislation & Advocacy

 

Updated Posted 5/31/2012

Senate Bill 1534 was officially referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

ACTION REQUEST: We need you to contact your senator as soon as possible to ask that SB 1534 now be moved out of committee. That is the next step of the process. Find your sentator by clicking here.

You can use the following text:

Dear Senator x,

I am writing to ask you to support Senate Bill 1534. This bill would update the licensure law for speech-language pathology.  SB 1534 has just been introduced and is currently in the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.  I urge you to please contact Chairman Tomlinson and ask him to bring the bill up in Committee as soon as possible.  SB 1534 is a companion bill to SB 1352, updating the licensure law for audiologists, which has already moved out of the Committee.  I also ask you to please support this legislation when it comes up for a vote in Committee or on the floor.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at cecoleman.slp@gmail.com

Thanks again for your continued support for PSHA and this licensure bill!

Craig Coleman
PSHA President

 

Licensure Update - 12-13-2011

In the next few days, Senator John Gordner will be formally introducing Senate Bill 1352.  It is our understanding that this bill will propose updated licensure for only audiology.  As an organization that represents both speech-language pathologists and audiologists, PSHA opposes any licensure legislation that does not update the law for both speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

We ask that you please contact Senator Gordner at jgordner@pasen.gov and urge him to introduce a bill that represents speech-language pathologists and audiologists. A sample letter is below. You can simply copy and paste the text below and email it to Senator Gordner.  Please cc your email to either cecoleman.slp@gmail.com or psha@psha.org so that we can follow up with Senator Gordner.

Your effort is greatly appreciated. With all of us working together, we can make a difference! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Thank you!!

Craig Coleman
President-Elect, PSHA

 

Dear Senator Gordner,

I am writing to urge you to reconsider introducing Senate Bill 1352.  This bill would update only the current licensure law for audiology, and not speech-language pathology.

I oppose any bill that does not contain updated licensure with practice protection and consumer protection for both speech-language pathology and audiology. 

Licensure protects the consumers by assuring that they are receiving services from a professional who has met the standards in their respective fields.  Occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, massage therapists, electricians, plumbers, and cosmetologists are examples of professionals in Pennsylvania who must be licensed regardless of practice setting.

Please do not leave the constituents of Pennsylvania with communication disorders behind.  From the child who will not raise his hand in class because he stutters to the man who cannot communicate with his wife because of a stroke, we must protect our consumers.

I strongly urge you to withhold your introduction of Senate Bill 1352 and introduce a bill that updates the law to require licensure for speech-language pathologists and audiologists in all settings.

 

Licensure Update - 11-12-2011

Rep. Donna Oberlander has officially agreed to sponsor the licensure bill in the House of Representatives. Rep. Oberlander will be sending out a memo to her colleagues in the House to obtain co-sponors. We need all of you to contact your local House representative and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Here is a link that will provide you with the name and contact information of your local House representative:

http://www.house.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/#address

When asking them to co-sponosr the bill, please let them know you are discussing the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Licensure Act that has not been updated since 1984.  Please inform them that the bill will update our scope of practice to be in line with national standards and ensure that consumers in the Commonwealth receive services from the highest qualified providers.  Let them know that Rep. Oberlander has agreed to be the prime sponsor and will be sending a memo to them seeking co-sponsors.

If you or your legislators have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

Licensure Update - 10-28-2011

In 1984, Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer. Apple recognized the importance of staying current with technology, being innovative, and meeting the needs of the consumers in a changing world.  Each day that we continue without an updated licensure act, we are practicing speech-language pathology and audiology within a scope of practice that is equivalent to the original Macintosh.  Our licensure act has not been updated since 1984.  Much has changed in terms of our scope of practice, the needs of our consumers, technology, and the standard of care we are expected to provide.  Yet the 1984 act remains.

If our professions are to continue to grow, and benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania, our scope of practice must be updated to allow for the most state-of-the art technology and procedures. This includes being able to reach patients in remote parts of the state through telepractice, to effectively evaluate and treat swallowing and voice disorders through endoscopy, and to use state-of-the-art instrumentation which will enable us to gain more accurate and objective measures of our patients communication and swallowing disorders, and to more accurately treat these disorders.

In the state of Pennsylvania, physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, cosmetologists, funeral directors, and landscape architects are among the groups that must be licensed in all settings of practice. We owe it to our consumers to include provisions for universal licensure to ensure that speech-language pathologists are among those groups licensed in all settings. 

PSHA has been receiving numerous emails on a weekly basis from school-based speech-language pathologists supporting universal licensure.  In some cases, our members have shared stories of bachelor’s level SLPs being hired instead of master’s level SLPs.

PSHA has a verbal commitment from Rep. Donna Oberlander in the House to sponsor an updated bill.  Please contact Rep. Oberlander at Doberlan@pahousegop.com to thank her for supporting our bill.   We also have lined up several co-sponsors in the House from both sides of the political aisle.

During the next week, PSHA will be determining our specific course of action in the Senate.  We will keep you posted throughout the next few weeks. 

In the meantime, I have a request for all of you.  We need to develop a Licensure Advocacy Network.   We need as many of you as possible to join us (and recruit others to join us) in our advocacy efforts.   This would include calling/visiting your legislators to support the bill and working with us to promote the bill. It would not be a huge time investment, but it is going to be critical for us to get the bill passed.

If you would like to join us, or if you have any questions that you would like to discuss before joining our efforts, I would be happy to talk with you via phone or email:

Email: craig.coleman@chp.edu
Phone: 412-666-3825

Licensure Update - 9-30-2011

Members of the executive board have worked diligently to have a new licensure bill introduced into the PA Senate and House of Representatives. Over the past several months we have met with the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology (PAA) to redraft language that will be crafted into a new bill. Along with the addition of Universal Licensure, a term we have coined to require all speech language pathologists and audiologists in Pennsylvania to hold a license, regardless of practice setting, another important tenant to the legislation would be to add a new category of Provisional License. Currently, licensure is only available to an individual who has fulfilled the obligations of ASHA’s clinical fellowship year and passed the ASHA exam.

Under the proposed language the licensure board may issue a provisional license in speech-language pathology or audiology to applicants who have met all of the requirements for licensure except for the completion of the clinical fellowship necessary to receive either the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the Council for Clinical Certification of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, or certification from another national credentialing organization as recognized by the board. In addition, a provisional license would be granted to any person who is qualified by education, training and clinical experience by completing all educational requirements, including the externship of an Au.D. 

The purpose of the provisional license is solely to allow individuals to practice speech-language pathology or audiology under appropriate supervision while completing the postgraduate professional experience required for certification.  A person holding a provisional license would be authorized to practice speech-language pathology or audiology only while working under the supervision of a person fully licensed in this Commonwealth in accordance with this act.

One final provision of Provisional licensure is that a person holding a valid license in another state to practice speech-language pathology or audiology and who has applied for a license in Pennsylvania may practice speech-language pathology or audiology while working under the supervision of a person fully licensed in this Commonwealth for no more than 90 days while awaiting approval of the license application.

The addition of a Provisional licensure category is important for a number of reasons. It will allow individuals licensed in another state to fluidly move into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, helping to alleviate the shortage of both speech language pathologists and audiologists across the state. It will also allow a CF to bill Medicare for their services. According to the Center for Medicare Services (CMS), only a person with a license or provisional license can bill Medicare. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that do not grant a provisional license. Unfortunately, a CF currently needs to be supervised as a student for the purposes of Medicare billing. Provisional licensure would also allow a CF to bill Access for their services in the schools, where appropriate.

I urge you to support our licensure bill when it is reintroduced. We need sponsors and co-sponsors for the bill in both Houses. We need all speech language pathologists and audiologists, regardless of practice setting, to hold a license in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We need provisional licensure!

           
Kathleen R. Helfrich-Miller, PhD, CCC
Vice President for Governmental Affairs
Pennsylvania Speech Language Hearing Association

The Importance of Universal Licensure

Our new Licensure bill will require all speech language pathologists and audiologists in Pennsylvania to hold a license, regardless of practice setting. Currently, individuals who practice in state and federal agencies, including the public schools in Pennsylvania do not need a license.  This sets up an unfair “tier system” with less qualified therapists responsible for a large section of the service delivery system. Having universal licensure ensures that everyone practices under the same standards and code of ethics.

A licensed SLP is a highly qualified provider, in private practice, healthcare and in education settings. Should an adult or child be evaluated by an unlicensed professional? Think about it—would you hire an unlicensed plumber? What would happen if you went to a hairdresser who did not have a license? Should anyone receive a swallowing evaluation and treatment from someone without a professional license? 

Licensed SLPs and audiologists are required to have continuing education credits that focus explicitly on their practice related skills. These are provided by professionals outside of their practice setting in order to broaden the skill base. Licensure is important to ALL SLPs, not just those in private practice, hospitals and nursing homes.

It is also worth noting that universal licensure is not intended to replace Department of Education certification—PDE can still come up with its own requirements.  Universal licensure just assures that all new, entry level professionals hold the license, regardless of practice setting and certification status.

The rewrite of our licensure bill has been introduced in both the PA Senate as Senate Bill 710 and the House as House Bill 1653. Please write to your legislators in support of these bills.

Kathleen R. Helfrich-Miller, Ph.D. CCC
Vice President for Governmental Affairs
Pennsylvania Speech Language Hearing Association


License Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements

Practitioners holding an active or inactive license, issued by the Pennsylvania State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language and Hearing, in accordance with the amendment to section 5 (7) of the Speech-Language and Hearing Licensure Act (63 P.S. § 1705 (7) and its accompanying regulations (49 PA. Code 45.501-45.507) must complete 20 clock hours of continuing education between August 1, 2008 and July 31, 2010. What does this mean for you and how do you accrue and document your continuing education activities?

Beginning August 1, 2008, renewal of a license by a speech-language pathologist, audiologist or teacher of the hearing impaired will not be granted unless the licensee certifies that he or she has completed the required 20 clock hours of continuing education. These hours can be obtained by attending any approved continuing education program. Programs pre-approved for continuing education credit are sponsored by ASHA and AAA, as are courses offered by academic programs in speech-language pathology, audiology or teaching of the hearing impaired associated with institutions accredited by any state’s department of education (Act 48 hours) or a regional commission on institutions of higher education.

Is it an hour, a unit, or a credit?
A clock hour consists of 50 to 60 minutes of instruction or participation in an approved continuing education (CE) course or program. Clock hours differ from continuing education units (CEUs). One clock hour is equivalent to one tenth (.1) of a CEU. Therefore, to meet the continuing education requirement per biennium, a renewing licensee must have accrued 2.0 CEUs of instruction or participation in an approved CE course or program.

Can I “Double Dip” and Use Act 48 Hours for Licensure Renewal?
In most cases, yes, you can “double dip.” For individuals who are both licensed by the State Board of Examiners and certified by the Department of Education, the Board will accept all approved credits that conform to its proposed regulation even if a licensee used the same education experience to fulfill his or her requirements from the Department of Education. In other words, continuing education activities approved by the Department of Education, which are also approved by the Board, can be used to fulfill the requirements under both professional educator certification and license renewal. Be aware that some continuing education activities approved by the Department of Education for maintaining certification as a professional educator may not be approved by the licensure Board as beneficial or adequate for maintaining state licensure.

How Do I Document My Hours for the Licensure Board?
In order to certify that one has completed the required 20 clock hours of continuing education, the licensee must sign a statement on the license renewal application provided by the Board, certifying that the continuing education requirement has been met during the preceding biennial period. Because the Board will utilize random audits of renewal applications to determine compliance with this CE requirement, each licensee should maintain a continuing education record of courses and/or activities completed for a minimum of four years. If verification is requested, the audited licensee must be able to provide a continuing education record that documents the dates attended, continuing education hours claimed, title of course, description of content, and location of course. PSHA has created a tracking form you might wish to use for documenting your continuing education activities.

How Do I Get A Continuing Education Course or Program
Pre-Approved by the Licensure Board?

Credit for continuing education may be obtained for any program approved in advance by the Board. To apply for approval of a continuing education course or program, an application must be completed and submitted to the Board at least 90 days in advance of the date the course or program is scheduled. Board evaluation takes 45 to 90 days depending upon the volume of application requests and there is a nonrefundable cost of $40.00 for submitting an application. The Board will not approve continuing education programs in office management or practice building. Preapproval for a continuing education course or program is contingent upon compliance with the standards of provider responsibilities. For each proposed continuing education course or program, the provider must:

  1. disclose to prospective participants the objectives, content, teaching method, and number of hours of continuing education credit;
  2. provide adequate facilities and appropriate instructional materials for the number of anticipated participants; and
  3. utilize a verifiable method of certifying participation and issue a certified continuing education record to each participant.

Additional information can be found on the application form found at http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/lib/bpoa/20/spch_board/speech_application_for_ce.pdf

Finally, any licensed speech-language pathologists, audiologist, or teacher of the hearing impaired who fails to complete the required CE requirement within any biennial renewal period or who submits fraudulent continuing education records, may be subject to disciplinary action.

Act 48
The Law States, educators must maintain their education certificates as active by earning 6 collegiate or 6 PDE approved in-service credits or 180 continuing education hours or any combination of the above every 5 years. The five-year period began July 1, 2000. For those individuals who were issued their certificates in August 2000 and thereafter, the five-year period begins with the effective date of issuance of the initial certificate.

Act 71
After many years of attempting to amend the Speech-Language and Hearing Licensure Act to include a requirement for continuing education, PSHA was finally successful! On October 18, 2000, Governor Ridge signed HB 398 into law as “Act No. 71 of 2000”. Thanks to the sponsor of the bill, Representative Wilt, the co-sponsors, our lobbyist David Tive, and all our PSHA members and allies who took the time to write or call their elected officials in Harrisburg about this issue! A copy of the law may be obtained on the PA General Assembly’s website www.legis.state.pa.us through the “electronic bill room” (look up HB 398 or the 99-00 session).

  • What does Act 71 require? The new law will require the demonstration of satisfactory completion of 20 CLOCK hours of continuing education related to the practice of speech language pathology, audiology, or teaching hearing impaired “in accordance with board regulations” for renewal. Note that the State Board of Examiners in Speech, Language and Hearing has not yet issued these regulations.
  • To whom does this requirement apply? The continuing education requirement under Act 71 will apply to all individuals who are licensed by the State Board of Examiners in Speech, Language and Hearing.
  • When does this requirement take effect? At this time, the State Board of Examiners have not set any dates when the continuing education requirements will begin.
  • What kinds of courses will “count”? what won’t? The law indicates that no credit may be given for courses in office management or practice building. Other details (e.g. requirements regarding the sponsorship of continuing education and other issues pertaining to quality) will probably be expanded upon in the State Board’s regulations.
  • What if something happens and I am unable to complete the continuing education requirement? Act 71 provides for a waiver for individuals who are unable to comply with the continuing education requirement due to illness, emergency, or hardship. The request for the waiver must be made in writing, and must include a description of the circumstances sufficient to show why a licensee is unable to comply. Waiver requests will be evaluated by the board on a case-by case basis, and the decision of the board will be communicated in writing.
  • How does Act 71 relate to requirements under Act 48? Act 48 addresses continuing education for “professional educators”, e.g. the maintenance of one’s teaching credential as issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. If you maintain both the teaching certification and your state license, it is likely that you will be able to “count” hours earned for Act 48 IF those hours meet the guidelines that are spelled out in Act 71 and in subsequent regulations. (For information on whether Act 71 hours will be accepted under Act 48, consult the PSHA Fact Sheet on Act 48!).
  • Does the law do anything else? Yes. The law addresses issues pertaining to “impaired professionals”, i.e. an individual who has an addictive disease or who is otherwise mentally or physically incompetent to carry out the duties of the profession. There are specific requirements in the law regarding the reporting of such persons, corrective actions of the board regarding the impaired professional, the suspension or revocation of license when such a person is in treatment or leaves treatment. All licensees are encouraged to review the actual text of the law and, once they are promulgated, the regulations.
  • Who can I contact if I have additional questions? Feel free to contact Kathleen R. Helfrich-Miller, kathleen.miller54@verizon.net

In addition, the State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language and Hearing can be contacted at
ST-SPEECH@state.pa.us or http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/cwp/view.asp?a=1104&q=433205.

ASHA Advisory Council

Current members are:

Denise Dougherty - SLP
Deborah Moncrieff - Audiology

Advocacy & Issues Survey

What are the issues that are most important to you? Are you willing to help change the systems to improve access to, payment for, and the quality of speech, language, and hearing services for Pennsylvanians with disabilities? Please take a few moments to tell us what your interests and concerns are, and how you wish to join our advocacy efforts by clicking here.

Legislative Links

  • Don't know who your federal or state elected officials are?
    Go to www.vote-smart.org You will need to use your zip + 4, but don't worry - if you don't know the whole thing, this web page has a link that can get it for you!
  • A treasure trove of government links can be found through the Mesa State
    University Political Science home page, www.mesastate.edu.
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
    Our professional association has a well-maintained web site (www.asha.org) that can help you learn about issues relating to the profession, and how you can advocate for political change. Resources include information on the legislative process; writing, calling, or visiting your elected officials; definitions and other legislative links; action alerts; etc. You can join ASHA's electronic advocacy networks, HealthNet and EdNet, via the web site search.

You can also call the ASHA Director of Grassroots Advocacy at 301-897-5700.

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