ASHA Advocacy to Focus on Funding Issues As Congress, regulatory agencies, and states seek to curtail spending in an election year, ASHA’s advocacy efforts in 2012 will focus on maintaining funding for speech-language and hearing service providers and consumers through public health and education programs. The association’s 2012 public policy agenda, approved by the Board of Directors ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   November 01, 2011
ASHA Advocacy to Focus on Funding Issues
Author Notes
  • George Lyons, Jr., JD, MBA, director of government relations and public policy, can be reached at glyons @asha.org.
    George Lyons, Jr., JD, MBA, director of government relations and public policy, can be reached at glyons @asha.org.×
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   November 01, 2011
ASHA Advocacy to Focus on Funding Issues
The ASHA Leader, November 2011, Vol. 16, 28. doi:10.1044/leader.AN2.16152011.28
The ASHA Leader, November 2011, Vol. 16, 28. doi:10.1044/leader.AN2.16152011.28
As Congress, regulatory agencies, and states seek to curtail spending in an election year, ASHA’s advocacy efforts in 2012 will focus on maintaining funding for speech-language and hearing service providers and consumers through public health and education programs.
The association’s 2012 public policy agenda, approved by the Board of Directors in October, outlines advocacy priority areas for the second session of the 112th Congress. The Government Relations and Public Policy Board developed the 2012 agenda with input from state association presidents and ASHA committees, staff, and members (2,286 of whom responded to the survey seeking input and/or provided comments).
The agenda ranks issues into two categories—proactive and opportunistic advocacy—based on their significance, available resources, and likelihood of advocacy success:
  • ASHA will actively commit resources to achieve the objectives of “proactive” issues.

  • “Opportunistic” issues will receive attention if legislative or regulatory opportunities become available.

Each category includes education, health care, and professional issues.
Education
In 2012, ASHA will use resources to:
  • Advocate that the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) be used as a funding source for early intervening speech-language pathology and audiology services; promote policies addressing the role of the professions in general education; and advocate for consistent terminology in ESEA and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • Advocate to maintain IDEA funding levels.

  • Collaborate with members, disability advocates, and the education community to develop paperwork reduction strategies.

  • Support policies that improve classroom acoustics.

Opportunistic education issues include promoting reimbursement by Medicaid and other providers for speech-language and hearing services provided under IDEA (IDEA reimbursement does not cover the full cost of providing the services); and advocating to eliminate the reduction to Social Security benefits for audiologists and speech-language pathologists who participate in public retirement plans.
Health Care
Proactive issues address Medicare, Medicaid, third-party payer plans, the Medicare fee schedule, coding and billing, and child hearing health services, including:
  • A comprehensive Medicare audiology benefit (including screening, diagnosis, monitoring, habilitation, and rehabilitation), with the addition of an opt-out provision for audiologists.

  • Improved public and private coverage policies for speech-language and hearing services for all ages. Goals include appropriate valuation of reimbursement codes, inclusion of speech-language and hearing services as essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act, enactment of a hearing aid tax credit, and changes to Medicare policies that establish fee schedules and place limits on outpatient therapy services.

  • Inclusion of habilitative coverage of speech, language, and hearing services and devices in private and public insurance policies.

  • A comprehensive system of children’s hearing health care services. Goals include intervention and coordinated management across state and federal agencies in the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (EHDI); insurance coverage of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing devices; and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.

ASHA was successful in fulfilling a 2011 health care advocacy objective—reauthorization of EHDI legislation.
Professional Issues
Professional issues affect the professional development, training, scope of practice, licensure, and practices of audiologists and SLPs. The 2012 agenda encourages proactive efforts to:
  • Promote universal licensure and reciprocity to support consistency across states, with the certificates of clinical competence as the qualifications standard.

  • Develop and disseminate model language for states that defines the credentials, competencies, and service delivery options for certified SLPs and speech-language pathology assistants.

  • Support recruitment and retention through financial aid, loan forgiveness, salary supplements, workload models, and research funding opportunities.

As opportunities arise, ASHA will address supporting audiologists and SLPs as employees of or consultants to state agencies or other leadership roles to advocate for comprehensive services for individuals with communication impairments; recognition and coverage of speech-language and hearing telepractice services; promoting research funding and evidence-based practice through the National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Veterans Health; and supporting nondiscrimination laws and policies.
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November 2011
Volume 16, Issue 15