Issue: Improve Medicare Beneficiary Access to Audiology Services
Information: Medicare coverage for audiology services should be expanded to include all Medicare-covered diagnostic and treatment services that correspond to the scope of practice in audiology. Coverage should also allow for direct access to audiology services by removing language that requires a physician referral and reclassifying audiologists from “supplier” to “practitioner”, which would acknowledge the role audiologists play in providing hearing health care services and enable them to provide services via telehealth.
Issue: Permanently Cover Telehealth Services Under Medicare
Information: Medicare coverage for audiology and speech-language pathology services delivered via telehealth should be made permanent. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has used authority provided by Congress to cover key audiology and speech-language pathology telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that authority expires once the public health emergency (PHE) ends. Permanent coverage of telehealth services will enhance access to hearing, balance, speech, language, swallowing, and cognition related health care services for those in rural and medically underserved areas.
Issue: Promote Workforce Diversity
Information: Recruiting and sustaining a diverse workforce of audiologists and speech-language pathologists to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of clients, patients, and students is an ASHA priority. The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2021 (H.R. 3320/S. 1679) would increase opportunities for individuals who are from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from racial and ethnic minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Issue: Increase IDEA Funding
Information: Contact your senators and ask them to increase federal funding for children with disabilities as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 education funding legislation.
Additional federal resources are needed to ensure states are following federal mandates to provide a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities.
Issue: Help Ensure Full Funding for EHDI Initiatives
Information: Contact your senators and ask for EHDI funding and appropriations report language to ensure timely identification of congenital and acquired hearing loss and enhance connection to follow up services.
Congress reauthorized the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program in 2017; however, continued federal funding is necessary to ensure that EHDI initiatives are fully operational and successful by properly linking screening programs with diagnosis and early intervention.
Issue: Reciprocity of state license to allow interstate SLP and AuD services
Ask your state legislators to support the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC). The ASLP-IC will allow licensed audiologists and speech-language pathologists to obtain a privilege to practice across state lines without becoming licensed in additional ASLP-IC member states. This allows you to provide services to underserved or geographically isolated populations through telepractice and helps facilitate continuity of care when patients, clients, and/or students relocate or travel to another compact state. The ASLP-IC has been adopted in the following states: LA, NC, OK, UT, WV, WY.
Learn more about the ASLP-IC.
Information: PSHA has communicated to the legislature our support for continuing telepractice past the expiration of the waivers, and we support comprehensive telemedicine legislation to establish a clear framework for telepractice moving forward. Additionally, you can note that PSHA was instrumental in amending the current version of the telemedicine bill, SB 705, to include in the definition of health care services the terms “habilitation, rehabilitation.”
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