More than 100 ASHA leaders, representing all 50 states, descended on Capitol Hill March 16 to meet with their congressional representatives about issues critical to speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
In 224 scheduled meetings, members of the Board of Directors, Audiology Advisory Council, Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council, and Political Action Committee Board urged congressional staffers to:
- Repeal Medicare outpatient therapy caps.
- Protect funding for the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
- Include speech-language pathologists and audiologists in federally funded literacy programs.
- Reduce the paperwork and administrative burden on speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
- Support Medicare coverage of audiology services.
- Support hearing aid tax credits.
- Join the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus.
They also invited their representatives to visit their home state work sites to see the value of their services.
The ASHA leaders prepared for their lobbying efforts by participating in a legislative briefing the night before their Hill Day. Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation—a nonprofit focused on improving congressional operations and enhancing citizen engagement—spoke on the importance of advocating for your profession and the effect even a single individual's voice has on a congressional office.
ASHA staff then briefed participants on the advocacy issues to discuss in their meetings. Presenters also emphasized the importance of members' involvement in the legislative process. Many members of Congress and their staffs are unaware of the value of SLPs' and audiologists' services to constituents. ASHA members explained to congressional representatives how their policy decisions affect clinicians and the clients they serve.
Members of the Health Care Economics Committee also participated in a Hill Day in March. Graduate students and members of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association participated in an April Hill Day, and the Continuing Education Board will visit with legislators in May.