State Leaders Share Strategies at Summit More than 60 state association leaders shared recent advocacy successes and honed their leadership skills at the joint annual conference of ASHA and the Council of State Association Presidents (CSAP), held May 17-19 in Point Clear, AL. “There is always a lot of enthusiasm and sharing, and it’s a good ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   June 01, 2001
State Leaders Share Strategies at Summit
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Healthcare Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   June 01, 2001
State Leaders Share Strategies at Summit
The ASHA Leader, June 2001, Vol. 6, 1-11. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.06122001.1
The ASHA Leader, June 2001, Vol. 6, 1-11. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.06122001.1
More than 60 state association leaders shared recent advocacy successes and honed their leadership skills at the joint annual conference of ASHA and the Council of State Association Presidents (CSAP), held May 17-19 in Point Clear, AL.
“There is always a lot of enthusiasm and sharing, and it’s a good place to learn what has worked in other states,” said ASHA President John Bernthal, who addressed the group.
In the ASHA portion of the conference, state association leaders gained new strategies for addressing hot topics in the professions salary supplements, speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs), and health care financing initiatives.
Phil Crigler, Jr., an Alabama state representative sponsoring salary supplement legislation, provided tips on influencing the legislative process. Crigler said he introduced H.B. 174 to recognize the role of school-based speech-language pathologists in providing the best education possible for Alabama’s children. The bill would provide ASHA-certified SLPs and audiologists the same salary supplement as that provided to teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), including reimbursement for certification applications.
Crigler emphasized the importance of building personal relationships with legislators by finding links through a common university, a family member with a speech-language disorder, or other connections. These should be built upon in legislative visits, and are especially important if a senator or representative has political stature.
Salary supplements drew broad interest from participants. Mary Ann Mach of the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association described her state’s successful advocacy campaign that resulted in the passage of a 1999 bill providing a $6,000 annual salary supplement for licensed and ASHA-certified SLPs and audiologists. One hurdle faced by advocates in many states is gaining formal recognition of ASHA certification from the NBPTS. ASHA will meet next month with the NBPTS to discuss the issue.
In his keynote address for the ASHA portion of the conference, Larry Higdon, ASHA’s vice president for governmental and social policies, called for greater leadership development and volunteerism. “We’re an organization that is built on volunteerism and the involvement of membership. So much of what we have accomplished is the result of volunteerism,” he said, noting that the ASHA National Office is an important resource for members involved in advocacy. Higdon also cited the need to identify and plan advocacy efforts, as well as to assess allies and opponents, and he offered suggestions on hiring a lobbyist.
When state associations were polled prior to the conference, reimbursement emerged as a key concern. Conference participants learned about health care financing initiatives in Ohio and Massachusetts, as well as at the federal level, and the topic spilled over into informal roundtable discussions.
Ken Ruder, the Ohio Speech and Hearing Association’s (OSHA) director of public policy and an SLP at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati (CMHC), collaborated with clinicians in private practice, CMHC, and OSHA as part of an effort to increase insurance coverage for pediatric speech-language pathology. “Reimbursement for speech-language pathology services has become more restricted,” he noted. “Often insurers will only cover services for acquired disorders, rather than those that are congenital or developmental.”
The Coalition of Health Care Providers in Ohio developed materials for families with recommendations if their policies do not cover services or if coverage is denied. In the process, CMHC covered speech-language pathology services for the children of its employees and found that it costs just 76 cents annually to provide benefits for each plan member.
Ruder highlighted a nine-year partnership between audiologists and SLPs through the coalition. “We share the same problems with reimbursement, so it’s natural that the group formed,” he said.
Coalition members contribute to a fund, which is used to hire a lobbyist to work toward legislation, such as a bill that would pay for hearing aids for children and adults. Ohio’s Medicaid program pays only a maximum of $400 for a hearing aid, severely limiting amplification choices for children, Ruder said. In an effort to get the hearing aid bill passed, the group is working to refine the language of the bill, he added.
In Massachusetts, Noni Wylonis, an SLP in private practice, reported on the long-awaited victory in winning passage of a bill that requires health insurers to cover speech, language, and hearing services, regardless of setting. The bill, which passed last year, gives people the choice of receiving services in private practice and clinic settings where the charges are lower and lengthy waits for treatment can be eliminated.
In sessions and informal roundtable talks, speech-language pathology assistants emerged as a controversial issue. Victoria Pattillo provided an overview of the SLPA program at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL. Sue Hale, chair of ASHA’s Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, and Charlie Diggs, ASHA’s director of state and consumer advocacy, summarized ASHA’s credentialing program for SLPAs as well as state laws and requirements. While some states have no laws relating to assistants, other states have laws, but the criteria for the education and registration or licensure of assistants may vary greatly from those developed by ASHA.
During the conference, “Partners for Success/CSAP on the Move,” Mel Cohen, keynote speaker for the CSAP portion of the meeting, provided an illuminating look into association management. With a background in the professions as both a clinical and financial manager, Cohen explored leadership styles, and discussed how to recruit and motivate a volunteer membership and board.
“The CSAP meeting provides the opportunity for state association leaders to come together and develop the skills for the unique job of being state association presidents,” said CSAP President Barbara Moore-Brown. “The networking as well as the opportunity to learn and grow together is tremendous.”
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June 2001
Volume 6, Issue 12