2019 Public Policy Agenda
Overview & Background
As we near the end of 2018 and look to priorities in 2019, we see our country continuing to face challenges that include ideological divisions and inadequate funding for key health care and education initiatives.
These challenges have had an impact on the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology in the past, along with the individual clients, patients, and students that ASHA members serve. We believe they are likely to continue to have a significant impact in the coming year.
Consequently, it is more important than ever that the value and quality of our professions' work is properly understood and reflected in public policy.
The annual Public Policy Agenda serves as the keystone of ASHA's advocacy efforts on behalf of the professions. Developed by the Association's
Government Relations and Public Policy Board and approved by the Board of Directors, the Public Policy Agenda strategically incorporates the expertise and experience of ASHA's members, volunteer leaders, and staff. It specifies ASHA's top public policy priorities in health care, schools, professional practice/workforce, and consumer issues. It is designed to be both a tool of information and a tool of influence for members, lawmakers, policymakers, and the public.
Health Care Issues
Health care is expected to remain in the spotlight in 2019—both in Washington and in state capitals across the country. The
2019 Public Policy Agenda commits ASHA to advocate for the following: inclusion of our professions in Alternative Payment Models, comprehensive coverage and equitable reimbursement for our services, streamlined documentation, the preservation of habilitation and rehabilitation services as Essential Health Benefits under the Affordable Care Act, and productivity standards that ensure both clinical excellence and ethical practice.
ASHA members who work in educational settings continue to be challenged by reduced funding streams and unpredictability in service delivery systems. The 2019 Public Policy Agenda commits ASHA to advocate for reduced caseload and workload burdens, streamlined documentation, increased funding for services, and the preservation of appropriate roles of the federal and state governments in setting education policy and standards.
Professional Practice/Workforce Issues
As uniquely qualified professionals, audiologists and speech-language pathologists provide the highest quality of service and are recognized as valued and integral members of educational and health care teams. To ensure that role is continued, the 2019 Public Policy Agenda commits ASHA to advocate for the appropriate education, regulation, and utilization of audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; the preservation of licensure and certification standards; the protection of our scopes of practice; a robust pipeline of undergraduate and graduate students; and safe workplaces.
In concert with ASHA's vision of "Making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all," ASHA strongly believes that every individual who has a communication disorder deserves meaningful access to the evidence-based care they need. The 2019 Public Policy Agenda commits ASHA to advocate for preserving Medicaid eligibility, ensuring that consumers are appropriately informed to make decisions on treatment and care that best suits their individual needs, and safe audiological devices.
Members tell us repeatedly that they want ASHA to advocate in substantial ways on a variety of issues, so ASHA invests significantly in these advocacy activities. The Association employs 20 government affairs and public policy professionals who work collaboratively to advance the priorities of the Public Policy Agenda. Whereas the Public Policy Agenda itself represents the "what" in terms of which priorities are important to the professions, ASHA staff identify how those priorities can be meaningfully advanced in the current political and fiscal climate. ASHA's advocacy work centers on defining clear objectives each year and executing a strategy around achieving those objectives through policy analysis/development, strategic lobbying, communications, allied partnerships, and—most important—ASHA member engagement.
If you take nothing else away from this CEO Update, I hope you will understand and embrace the fact that ASHA's advocacy work will not succeed without you, the members, individually and collectively, taking an active role in advancing the priorities of the Public Policy Agenda. The clinical and professional perspectives you bring to these issues and your grassroots involvement, are critically important to engaging, educating, and persuading lawmakers and policymakers. Your voice matters! Big wins in 2018, such as the repeal of the Medicare Therapy Cap, absolutely would not have happened without your influence.
How can you get involved? Well, let me count the ways, and there are a variety! First is to be informed: You can stay abreast of ASHA's advocacy efforts by following timely posts from ASHA Advocacy staff on
Twitter and by visiting
takeaction.asha.org to learn more about the current issues. In addition, the 60-Second Advocacy Update e-newsletter, emailed monthly, includes a brief summary of what's happening in the legislative and regulatory arena related to the professions. Finally, weigh in on the Action Alerts, as policy makers DO care what the folks back home in their districts want.
Thank you for all you have done in the past, and all that you will do in 2019 to continue to make ASHA Advocacy an impactful and effective force. I am confident that the ASHA 2019 Public Policy Agenda will guide our efforts in the coming year and help us make a meaningful difference for our professions and those we serve.
National Office Staff Updates
New ASHA Staff Since October 2018
- Steve Donovan, Director, Customer Service
- Rumnea Kelly, Information Security Administrator
- Carol Breeze, Associate Director, CE
- Malissa Holley, Manager, Accounts Receivable
- Jennifer Fatemi, Manager, Mailing List Sales