Facebook: Iowa Speech-Language Hearing Association
Contact: Melissa Primus, 515-282-8192 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Kelli Zeimetz-Mehmert, president, email@example.com
How is ISHA making a difference in members' professional lives?
ISHA seeks to make a difference in our members' lives by providing high-quality CEU opportunities, working with lobbyists to clarify and protect the speech-language pathology and audiology scopes of practice, and advocating with state legislators for continued provision of Medicaid speech-language pathology services to those unable to pay.
What is the most significant challenge, unique circumstance
or pressing frustration facing communication sciences and disorders professionals
in your state today?
During our legislative session this year, music therapists
proposed a bill that would allow licensure for certified music therapists. The
proposed scope of practice included assessment and treatment of communication
and cognitive disorders. Thanks to critical conversations among the ISHA
leaders, the ISHA consultant and lobbyist, and ASHA staff, ISHA was successful
in blocking the bill. ISHA continues to be active in conversations with state
senators who support the music therapist licensure bill to ensure that the
speech-language pathology scope of practice is protected.
Iowa also has a shortage of SLPs in certain areas of the
state, and we anticipate that a large number of service providers will retire
over the next 10 years. The limited resources of university programs to keep up
with the demand will result in shortages and threats to the profession.
Although the number of SLPs and audiologists continues to grow, ISHA is faced
with declining membership, suggesting either a lack of commitment on the part
of professionals or an inability of ISHA to convince professionals of the value
of a state association.
What is your association's proudest accomplishment?
ISHA continues to be a strong association that is able to
offer high-quality continuing education and advocacy efforts while supporting
the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology.
What is a particularly memorable event in your association's history and how did it come about?
For SLPs in private practice, an ongoing frustration is
reimbursement. ISHA worked long and hard with Wellmark, the local Blue Cross
Blue Shield company, to improve its pediatrics policy. Private insurance
companies often require medical necessity for speech-language services—defined
as "treatment to restore speech lost due to illness, injury or surgery." This definition easily supports many adult disorders, but not pediatrics. ISHA leaders worked with Wellmark over the course of a few years, and the wording was deleted. It is slowly vanishing from many private insurance policies, but not all. Also, allowing private-practice SLPs to bill Wellmark and other private insurances has been a huge accomplishment. Up until about two years ago, only SLPs in a hospital system could bill.
Do you have a particularly successful advocacy or
recruitment strategy to share?
Our lobbyist spearheaded the most recent and notable
advocacy effort, which focused on the inclusion of SLPs and audiologists in
school salary adjustments a few years ago. The teachers union excluded SLPs and
audiologist from the process; our lobbyist advocated rigorously and
successfully to include us in proposed salary adjustments. Without that effort,
school-based SLPs and audiologists would have been left out of the large raises
given to all teachers and administrators.
What should every communication science and disorders
professional in your state know about the association?
As a member of ISHA, you have the opportunity to make a
difference. Your membership dues help support your lobbyist, whose efforts
protect your job, your profession, your workload, your credentials, and the
laws and policies that govern your practice. Whether you are an SLP or
audiologist, and whether you are in health care, education or private practice,
the goal is the same. Become an ISHA member today!