Health Care: The Challenge of Change Health care—it’s a fundamental human need and, for 41% of ASHA members, our primary practice setting. That’s why we decided to devote this issue of The ASHA Leader—and part of the Oct. 22 issue—to challenges facing members working in health care settings. Whether you view health care as a practitioner, ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   October 01, 2002
Health Care: The Challenge of Change
Author Notes
  • Arlene Pietranton, is ASHA’s chief staff officer for speech-language pathology.
    Arlene Pietranton, is ASHA’s chief staff officer for speech-language pathology.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Early Identification & Intervention / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   October 01, 2002
Health Care: The Challenge of Change
The ASHA Leader, October 2002, Vol. 7, 1-29. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.07182002.1
The ASHA Leader, October 2002, Vol. 7, 1-29. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.07182002.1
Health care—it’s a fundamental human need and, for 41% of ASHA members, our primary practice setting. That’s why we decided to devote this issue of The ASHA Leader—and part of the Oct. 22 issue—to challenges facing members working in health care settings.
Whether you view health care as a practitioner, patient, family member, or policy-maker, the pace of change over the past decade has been dizzying. Funding cutbacks, cost containment, legislative changes, organizational restructuring, and stepped-up demands for accountability and productivity have reshaped the delivery of health care services.
What has driven these changes? Concern over spiraling health care costs is the biggest factor. Managed care emerged as an attempt to curb costs—as did the infamous Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which implemented harsh Medicare cost reductions through the Prospective Payment System and the $1,500 caps on outpatient services.
More and more payers—and patients—demanded evidence of effectiveness and efficiency. Many health care organizations responded by relying more on protocols and exploring new approaches to health care delivery, including the use of multiskilled personnel and professional cross-training.
The chaos, however, has spawned new opportunities for our professions. Growth has occurred in existing practice areas, while other areas have emerged—including early hearing detection and intervention, neonatal intensive care services, and telepractice—along with a growing need to deliver culturally competent services as our country and clientele become more culturally and linguistically diverse.
These shifts in the health care system have influenced where and how we practice. In some cases, the financial viability of our clinical programs has been challenged. During the turbulence of the past few years, our professions have responded with heightened tenacity and advocacy that have brought gradual but noteworthy successes.
Our latest strategy is a 2003 ASHA focused initiative on health care reimbursement. This initiative will address private payer and Medicaid coverage rules and reimbursement rates that have restricted patient access to our services and our professional scopes of practice.
Planned outcomes are to:
  • provide ASHA members access to information and tools to effectively negotiate with private health plans to ensure appropriate coverage criteria and equitable reimbursement rates

  • increase the number of employers that cover comprehensive speech-language pathology and audiology services in benefits packages

  • increase the number of states introducing bills mandating appropriate coverage of audiology and speech-language pathology services

  • provide ASHA members with tools to effectively navigate state-funded insurance programs at the state and local levels to ensure appropriate coverage criteria and equitable reimbursement rates

ASHA cannot reverse the massive changes that have been forced upon us, but we are committed to advocacy and to providing you the most effective tools to improve your lives and the lives of those you serve.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
October 2002
Volume 7, Issue 18