Congress Considers Key Bills: Supplier Status, Hearing Aid Coverage, and IDEA Full Funding Legislation Reintroduced Members of the new 110th Congress, led by a Democratic majority, have reintroduced legislation that would allow private-practice speech-language pathologists to bill Medicare directly, require certain insurers to provide coverage for hearing aids, and ensure that the federal government fully complies with its commitment to fund 40% of the cost ... Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   March 01, 2007
Congress Considers Key Bills: Supplier Status, Hearing Aid Coverage, and IDEA Full Funding Legislation Reintroduced
Author Notes
  • Elizabeth Mundinger, is ASHA’s director of federal and political advocacy. Contact her at 800-498-2071, ext. 4473, or at emundinger@asha.org.
    Elizabeth Mundinger, is ASHA’s director of federal and political advocacy. Contact her at 800-498-2071, ext. 4473, or at emundinger@asha.org.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   March 01, 2007
Congress Considers Key Bills: Supplier Status, Hearing Aid Coverage, and IDEA Full Funding Legislation Reintroduced
The ASHA Leader, March 2007, Vol. 12, 1-23. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.12032007.1
The ASHA Leader, March 2007, Vol. 12, 1-23. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.12032007.1
Members of the new 110th Congress, led by a Democratic majority, have reintroduced legislation that would allow private-practice speech-language pathologists to bill Medicare directly, require certain insurers to provide coverage for hearing aids, and ensure that the federal government fully complies with its commitment to fund 40% of the cost of implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Supplier Status in Medicare
Sens. John Ensign (R-NV) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) reintroduced legislation that would make a technical correction recognizing SLPs as suppliers under Medicare. This legislation, known as S. 45, would allow private-practice SLPs to bill Medicare directly for outpatient services. A companion bill likely will be reintroduced in the House of Representatives soon.
While Medicare allows for reimbursement of all medically necessary speech-language pathology services, SLPs cannot bill Medicare directly for their services under current law. This policy is contrary to those of other government health care entities and programs—such as the Veterans Health Administration and Medicaid—as well as most private health plans, which allow SLPs to directly bill for their services. Furthermore, the policy is inconsistent with the government’s consideration of other rehabilitation professionals—both physical and occupational therapists may bill Medicare directly.
Last year, more than 65 legislators co-sponsored a similar measure and the Senate leadership included supplier status language in its Medicare proposal. Unfortunately, the language was not included in the final Medicare bill.
Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids
The Help America Hear Act of 2007, H.R. 536, reintroduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would require certain insurance companies to cover two hearing aids every three years (capped at $2,500 per covered individual). This bill would help the estimated 28 million Americans with hearing loss, only 25% of whom now use hearing aids.
IDEA Full Funding
Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), and Darlene Hooley (D-OR) reintroduced the Everyone Deserves Unconditional Access to Education (EDUCATE) Act, H.R. 821, which would ensure that the federal government fully fund its commitment to pay up to 40% of the cost of implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under this legislation, the federal contribution would reach 40% in the year 2015.
When IDEA was enacted in 1975, Congress committed the federal government to pay up to 40% of the educational costs (i.e., Part B, state grants) for children with disabilities, with state and local funds supplementing the remainder. When IDEA was reauthorized in 2004, the law authorized specific funding levels to allow the federal share to grow from 18% in 2004 to 40% by 2011. Unfortunately, Congress has not appropriated enough funding to match the levels specified in the law. In fact, the federal share has been decreasing. This legislation would put the federal government back on track to fully funding its commitment.
What You Can Do

Members are encouraged to contact senators and representatives and urge them to cosponsor these important bills. For information, “Take Action” Web site is updated regularly with information about pending legislation and other issues.

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March 2007
Volume 12, Issue 3