What’s New Stateside 2004? In 2004, actions of state legislatures and state regulatory agencies have generally had a positive impact on audiology and speech-language pathology. See for yourself in the following state by state reports of major actions that are official, or nearly so. Space does not permit inclusion of all state actions or ... Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis  |   July 01, 2004
What’s New Stateside 2004?
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   July 01, 2004
What’s New Stateside 2004?
The ASHA Leader, July 2004, Vol. 9, 10-11. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.09132004.10
The ASHA Leader, July 2004, Vol. 9, 10-11. doi:10.1044/leader.PA2.09132004.10
In 2004, actions of state legislatures and state regulatory agencies have generally had a positive impact on audiology and speech-language pathology. See for yourself in the following state by state reports of major actions that are official, or nearly so. Space does not permit inclusion of all state actions or those that are not at least close to being finalized.
Actions through June 15 are reported. For current status of a bill in your state, contact Susan Pilch at spilch@asha.org
On May 9, both chambers of the Legislature passed S.B. 365 to require registration of speech-language pathology assistants. If the governor signs the bill, Alaska would become the 32nd state that officially regulates the use of support personnel. Due to excellent planning and execution by the Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the bill was introduced, cleared multiple committees of jurisdiction, and was passed by both the Senate and House in a total of 53 days. The other states that regulate audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel
Gov. Janet Napolitano’s signing of H.B. 2543 on May 26 creates a fund for monies collected under the audiology and speech-language pathology licensing law, except those from civil penalties. Previously, these dollars were part of a general state fund that could be used for purposes other than implementation of the licensure law.
A bill (S.B. 1158) to require health insurers to provide a hearing aid benefit for children passed the Senate, and then passed the Assembly’s Health Committee on June 15. Approval by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee and the entire Assembly will send the bill to Gov. Schwarzenegger for signature. If signed, the bill would require coverage for hearing aids, up to $1,000, for all enrollees and subscribers under 18 years of age. This benefit may be restricted to one claim during a 36-month period. The health care service plan would determine the hearing aid dispenser. The California Legislature does not adjourn until late in the year, and may take further action.
Seven states already provide such coverage to some extent. Details are on the State Insurance Mandates for Hearing Aids page. ASHA’s model bill for insurance coverage of children’s hearing aids may also be found on the ASHA Web site.
Responding to a 1997 legislative mandate, the Indiana Psychology Board recently proposed a final regulation that limited the administration of more than 200 tests. On this list were more than four dozen tests that SLPs may use as part of a speech/language evaluation, including at least seven tests developed by SLPs.
The proposed rule was opposed not only by SLPs but also by many groups of counselors (certified, mental health, and school), marriage and family therapists, social workers, and physical therapists. ASHA joined members of the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association and other state and national associations in a letter-writing and phone call campaign to oppose the rule. As a direct result of this concerted effort, Gov. Joseph Kernan disapproved the rule on May 21, and indicated his intentions to urge the General Assembly to provide more guidance to the Psychology Board on the kind of tests to be included.
Last year, Illinois passed a bill (H.B. 2864) allowing highly qualified SLPs to provide services in the schools other than through a teacher certificate. State-licensed or ASHA-certified SLPs could work under a School Service Personnel Certificate with a speech-language endorsement if course work and supervised clinical experience applicable to students with disabilities in a school setting could also be documented.
However, the State Board of Education had trouble writing rules to implement this law. So, this year, the Illinois Legislature passed S.B. 2395 on May 25 to clarify eligibility for graduates of out-of-state colleges and universities. The bill also created a mechanism for applicants without 150 hours of supervised school experience to obtain an interim certificate while they participate in this school-based experience. The bill still needs the governor’s signature.
The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act, originally passed in 1999, was amended (S.B. 511) on May 17 to give the Secretary of Health and Environment directives on specific rules and regulations that need to be developed, including equipment standards, screening protocols, personnel standards, and reporting requirements.
Licensed audiologists in the state no longer need to take the hearing aid dealers and fitters examination in order to dispense hearing aids. They are also now allowed to obtain a permit to fit and dispense hearing aids without a training period under the supervision of a licensed hearing aid dispenser. Gov. John Baldacci’s signature of S.B. 747B on April 9 authorized these changes.
Maryland’s licensure law was amended on May 11 (H.B. 427) to restrict the voting powers of physicians who sit on the board. A proposal to remove the two physician members was defeated, but the physicians will not be allowed to vote on proposals that expand or restrict the practice of audiology or the practice of speech-language pathology.
On May 7, Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed S.B. 206, making necessary a license to practice audiology. Michigan is the 49th state to regulate the practice of audiology, with Idaho and the District of Columbia the only exceptions.
A Michigan bill (H.B. 5308) to license speech-language pathologists that was introduced later than the audiology bill is still being considered by House committee. Colorado, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Michigan, and South Dakota do not regulate speech-language pathology.
After upgrading its regulation of audiology and speech-language pathology from registration to licensure last year, the legislature added amendments this year that (1) provide a doctoral externship license for doctoral candidates in audiology who are completing their final externship, and (2) authorize speech-language pathologists to use speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) who are appropriately supervised. Neither licensure nor registration is required for SLPAs, but these support personnel must still meet certain educational requirements, perform only specified duties, and receive required supervision. This bill (H.B. 2175) was only passed and signed into law on May 29 after differences between House and Senate versions of the bill were resolved in conference.
New Jersey
While Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) is not currently contained within the scope of speech-language pathology (SLP) practice in New Jersey, the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee of New Jersey proposed regulations on May 3 that would allow licensed SLPs with proper training to perform this procedure as long as a physician with training in the procedure was present. SLP training would include a 12-hour seminar or workshop, 10 observations of FEES procedures, and performance of 25 FEES under supervision. The public comment period ended in early July. The rulemaking process must be completed before SLPs in the state will be eligible.
Gov. Brad Henry’s signature of S.B. 1263 on May 10 amended the licensure law to require a doctoral degree in audiology for licensure after Dec. 31, 2006. Currently, Oklahoma has no master’s degree programs in audiology.
Included in other changes to the licensure law was a provision that speech-language pathology or audiology services offered through telephonic, electronic, or other means constituted the practice of speech-language pathology or audiology and required a state license regardless of the location of the speech-language pathologist or the audiologist. Oklahoma is one of the first states to articulate a formal telehealth policy for audiology and speech-language pathology.
In separate action on May 18, Gov. Henry signed S.B. 1207 and provided a salary supplement of $5,000 for school-based SLPs and audiologists with ASHA certification. Although funding to implement the law was not available this session, bill sponsors are confident that funds will be appropriated next year. ASHA’s State Education Action Team and the Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association had been working together for three years on this initiative as part of the ASHA Schools Focused Initiative.
As a result of new legislation (H.B. 1014), school boards are now required to employ enough SLPs to ensure that caseloads do not exceed 60 students per position (the former maximum was 68). The legislature is still trying to find money to assist with implementation of the law. Under the Schools Focused Initiative, ASHA has worked closely with the Speech, Language, Hearing Association of Virginia since 2000 to accomplish this outcome.
In March, legislation (H.B. 2765) created an advisory council in the Department of Social and Health Services to advance the development of a statewide system of prompt and effective early intervention for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families. Washington is not one of the 42 states (plus the District of Columbia) with Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) laws or voluntary compliance programs that screen the hearing of more than 85 percent of newborns.
Details on these states may be found on the EHDI Action Center page.
The licensure law was amended by A.B. 841 on April 16 to include changes such as:
  • increasing the number of audiologists on the board from one to two;

  • increasing the number of speech-language pathologists on the board from one to two;

  • exemption of school audiologists whose practice is entirely in the schools;

  • accepting education or training that the board determines is essentially equivalent to a postgraduate clinical fellowship;

  • allowing an audiologist to supervise a hearing instrument specialist trainee;

  • applying the continuing education requirement to the second licensure renewal period and thereafter.

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July 2004
Volume 9, Issue 13