Access to Audiology and Speech Therapy Must Be Preserved

March 9, 2017

ASHA is committed to maintaining the hard-fought coverage gains at the federal and state levels for rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices. Our association, along with the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association, sent a letter to Dr. Tom E. Price, the newly appointed Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The joint communication [PDF] underscores the importance of continued consumer access to services provided by occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists in future health reform efforts.

In addition, as part of the Habilitation Benefits Coalition (HAB Coalition), ASHA urged [PDF] Congress to preserve coverage of habilitative services and devices, including audiology and speech-language pathology, in any Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement efforts. The HAB Coalition explains how habilitative services and devices have helped Americans with disabilities—and those with chronic progressive conditions—to acquire and maintain skills and functions never developed and to maintain their health and function so that they can live as independently as possible. Some of the long-term benefits of therapy services include reducing long-term disability, reducing dependents' costs to society, and allowing caregivers to return to work.

Both letters provide real-life examples of children and adults who have benefited from receiving rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.

Background

On March 6, 2017, two House committees—the Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee—released the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace the ACA. Currently, ACA-compliant plans (i.e., nongrandfathered individual and small group plans) must provide coverage for rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices. 

The HAB Coalition is a group of national nonprofit consumer and clinical organizations focused on securing appropriate access to, and coverage of, habilitation benefits within the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) category known as "rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices" under Section 1302 of the ACA.

ASHA Resource

For more information, please contact Daneen Grooms, MHSA, ASHA's director of health reform analysis and advocacy, at [email protected] or by phone at 301-296-5651.


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