Board of Directors Meeting Report: March 17, 2013

The Board of Directors (BOD) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) met on the afternoon of March 17, 2013, at the ASHA National Office. Following are highlights of the Board’s discussions.

President’s Welcome

President Prelock and the entire Board thanked Perry Flynn, chair of the Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council; Wayne Foster, chair of the Audiology Advisory Council; Neil DiSarno, chief staff officer for audiology; and Lemmie McNeilly, chief staff officer for speech-language pathology, for their excellent work in preparing and conducting the AC meetings.

Advisory Council Meetings

The BOD expressed appreciation for the level of engagement, open flow of communication, high level of involvement, and enthusiasm of the members of both Councils. The Board agreed that the feedback provided by the Councils will be very helpful as decisions are made at future Board meetings. Perry Flynn and Wayne Foster, Advisory Council chairs, will be compiling all of the comments, suggestions, and ideas and will develop a report for the Board that will include needed follow-up by the Board or staff. AC members will be provided with additional information via the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Councils’ collaboration websites through which they will continue to advise the BOD throughout the year.

Volunteer Opportunities for NSSLHA Members/New ASHA Members

National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) National Advisor Carlin Hageman and Chief Staff Officer for Multicultural Affairs Vicki Deal-Williams led the Board in a discussion about enhancing opportunities for graduating NSSLHA members and new ASHA members to participate in volunteer positions for ASHA. The Board agreed that highlighting different pathways that are available for leadership experiences for our new generation of volunteer leaders would add value to our association and decided to refer the suggestions that were discussed at the meeting to the Leadership Development Committee.

AAA’s Request for RUC HCPAC Seat

Director, Government Relations and Public Policy George Lyons updated the Board about a request in October of 2012 by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) that AAA become the organization that represents audiologists on the RUC HCPAC. After discussions with AAA, ASHA had additional conversations with members of the RUC HCPAC and members of the American Medical Association (AMA) staff. As background, note that the AMA created the RUC HCPAC to allow for participation in the development of relative values for new and revised CPT Codes within the scope of practice of non-physician, health care professionals. Current feedback from RUC HCPAC indicates their satisfaction with ASHA’s representation of audiology as we are the organization that represents the largest number of audiology professionals and have been inclusive of all audiology organizations in their representative roles. The Board continues to feel that both audiology and speech-language pathology continue to be well represented by ASHA via its single seat on the RUC HCPAC. The Board remains committed to continuing the dialogue with AAA to determine if there are ways to enhance opportunities for AAA and other audiology and/or other speech-language pathology organizations to more fully provide input to the RUC HCPAC.

Voter Turnout Initiatives From the CNE

Immediate Past President Shelly Chabon shared ideas from the Committee on Nominations and Elections (CNE) for increasing ASHA member voter turnout at this year’s election that will begin on April 23 and conclude on May 30. In addition to the regular communications, plans are under way to also use direct mail, social media, and enlisting state associations to encourage more members to vote. It was decided that, because some additional initiatives planned for 2013 will require funding that is not currently in the 2013 operating budget, a motion to fund specific initiatives will be presented to the Board via the Board’s collaboration site.

ADA Legislation to Amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act

Chief Staff Officer for Audiology Neil DiSarno updated the Board about meetings ASHA has been having with colleagues from the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) about legislation that ADA is advocating. For several years, ASHA has pursued access to comprehensive benefits so that individuals may receive—and audiologists may deliver and be reimbursed for—the full scope of diagnostic and rehabilitative hearing and balance services.

Representatives from ASHA and the ADA have engaged in discussions about legislation ADA is proposing to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act so that audiologists would be defined as physicians for purposes of funding audiology services under the Medicare program as that would enable direct access under Medicare. The ADA proposal also seeks comprehensive benefits. ASHA's legislative priority is the passage of the Comprehensive Medicare Benefit for audiology services, and we believe that a bill focusing solely on comprehensive benefits is the one most likely to garner legislative support. At the same time, we are committed to continued communication with our colleagues in ADA regarding these legislative efforts and in advocating for the best interests of audiologists and those we serve.

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