On Thursday, February 14, 2013, Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) introduced H.R. 702, the Access to Frontline Health Care Act. ASHA supported the introduction of H.R. 702, which will establish a loan repayment program through the U.S. Public Health Service Corps for health care professionals, including speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists, who agree to work for 2 years in a "scarcity area" as designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment rate for both SLPs and audiologists is expected to demonstrate "faster than average" growth through the year 2020. The Bureau estimated that from 2010 to 2020, approximately 28,800 more SLPs would be needed to meet the demands. Additionally, the demand for audiologists is expected to grow by 37%-an estimated 4,800 new jobs being created over the next 7 years.
ASHA conducted its 2011 SLP Health Care Survey to gather information about professional issues related to health care-based services. The survey found more openings were reported in rural areas compared with those in suburban and metropolitan/urban areas. In a similar survey, audiologists also reported more openings in rural areas. The Access to Frontline Health Care Act would specifically address these issues of SLP and audiologist shortages.
H.R. 702 was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration. Please take action and ask your congressional representative to cosponsor the legislation. For questions about the Access to Frontline Health Care Act, please contact Neil Snyder, ASHA's director of federal advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5614.