Grassroots Advocacy Success Missouri Site Visit Builds Support for Hearing Aid Legislation Grassroots 101
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Grassroots 101  |   September 01, 2009
Grassroots Advocacy Success
Author Notes
  • Katie Bromley, MA, director of grassroots and congressional advocacy, can be reached at kbromley@asha.org.
    Katie Bromley, MA, director of grassroots and congressional advocacy, can be reached at kbromley@asha.org.×
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Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Grassroots 101
Grassroots 101   |   September 01, 2009
Grassroots Advocacy Success
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 5-6. doi:10.1044/leader.GR.14122009.5
The ASHA Leader, September 2009, Vol. 14, 5-6. doi:10.1044/leader.GR.14122009.5
A couple of years ago, if you had asked audiologist Rich Hogan about becoming an ASHA advocate, he might have been noncommittal. But shortly after joining ASHA’s Health Care Economics Committee (HCEC), he was hooked on the political process—and his advocacy efforts have paid off.
“I was always apathetic to the whole political system, [but] the system’s not so difficult. We can make a difference,” said Hogan, who delivers audiology services at Ear Care & Skull Base Surgery in Chesterfield, Mo.
Hogan scheduled and attended meetings with his representatives on Capitol Hill in March. Armed with ASHA issue briefs and informal preparation, he visited with staff from the offices of Sen. Christopher Bond (R), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), and Rep. Todd Akin (R), discussing audiology issues such as the hearing aid assistance tax credit, direct access to audiologists, and early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI).
Hogan was nervous in anticipation of his first-ever visit to the Hill—he was concerned about how he would be received. He quickly realized his fears were unfounded, finding the lawmakers open to his message.
Hogan’s meetings went so well, in fact, that he invited a member of Rep. Akin’s staff to a site visit. In July, Debbie Cochran, district director for Rep. Akin, visited Hogan’s facility. He gave her a tour and demonstrated the equipment. Although Cochran has a health care background and had worked at a hospital, she came eager to learn more about Hogan, his site, and the work of audiologists. Hogan, long over his nervousness, said the visit was “actually fun.”
He also reviewed with Cochran two of ASHA’s legislative policies from their March discussion, the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act (H.R. 1646) and the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 3024), which allows Medicare beneficiaries to access audiology services without prior physician approval. In addition, they discussed provisions of the pending health care reform bills, including costs to small businesses, patient access, cost-effectiveness, and the establishment of a medical home, and how reform might affect audiology.
Less than a month after the visit, Cochran informed Hogan that as a direct result of his work, Rep. Akin had signed on as a supporter of the hearing aid tax credit legislation. “I think I needed that to happen,” Hogan explained. “It really makes me believe that spending the extra time [on advocacy] can make a difference.”
Hogan began his three-year term on ASHA’s Health Care Economics Committee (HCEC) in January 2009. He had been nominated for the committee because of his passion for reimbursement issues and his newly awakened interest in political advocacy.
Prior to his appointment, Hogan “really didn’t care too much” about legislative advocacy. “But through the HCEC, my eyes were open to the legislative process,” he said.
The HCEC develops recommendations for procedural and diagnostic coding and relative values of audiology and speech-language pathology procedures. The committee also considers coverage of services by all payers and anticipates further socioeconomic needs of the professions and consumers. Committee members occasionally meet in the D.C. area; some take advantage of the location to conduct Capitol Hill visits with their elected officials.
Committee membership may provide more opportunities to visit D.C. and meet with legislators, but any member can invite his or her elected officials to a worksite. Congressional district staff need to learn about the work of audiologists and speech-language pathologists and the services they provide to the community.
And, as Rich Hogan now knows, site visits can produce tangible results.
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September 2009
Volume 14, Issue 12