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2021 ASHA Public Policy Agenda

The 2021 Public Policy Agenda identifies the top public policy priorities for the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology in the areas of health care and schools, as well as issues impacting professional practice and workforce, and patients, clients, and students. The Agenda is designed for lawmakers, policymakers, decision makers, ASHA members, consumers, and the general public.

The Agenda reflects ASHA’s ongoing commitment to patients, clients, and students; evidence-based practice and outcomes; public health; the highest standards of professional ethics; a diverse professional workforce; and nondiscrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

See also: 2021 ASHA Comments, Letters, and Testimony

Health Care Priorities

  • Advocate for comprehensive coverage and equitable reimbursement for audiology and speech-language pathology services, including early intervention services.
  • Advocate for expanded coverage of audiology and speech-language pathology services delivered by means of telepractice, and support reimbursement parity between telepractice and in-person services.
  • Advocate for public policies that support or expand coverage of habilitation and rehabilitation services and devices as essential health benefits.
  • Support productivity and documentation standards that prioritize patient access, clinical excellence, ethical practice, and high-quality service delivery.
  • Advocate for the inclusion and appropriate evaluation of audiology and speech-language pathology services in alternative payment models, coverage policies, and other emerging health care delivery systems.
  • Advocate for effective funding to support the research and the assessment, treatment, and management of speech, language, cognitive, hearing, balance, voice, and feeding/swallowing disorders.

Schools Priorities

  • Advocate for public policies that promote equitable access to school-based audiology and speech-language pathology services, multiple models of service delivery, and telepractice technology.
  • Advocate for public policies that support school-based audiologists and speech-language pathologists in acquiring materials, technology, and training to deliver services effectively and equitably across multiple models of service delivery.
  • Advocate that school-based audiologists and speech-language pathologists receive competitive wages that align with other licensed professionals who have comparable academic preparation, clinical training, and/or certification.
  • Advocate for public policies that promote manageable workloads to optimize student outcomes, and support both clinical excellence and ethical practice.
  • Advocate for effective funding to support the assessment, treatment, and management of speech, language, cognitive, hearing, balance, voice, and feeding/swallowing disorders.

Professional Practice and Workforce Priorities

  • Advocate for evidence-based public health policies that support a safe working environment, such as the provision of adequate and appropriate PPE, flexible working hours, additional paid sick leave, and telepractice technology.
  • Advocate for public policies that support the licensure and certification standards of audiologists and speech-language pathologists, and their ability to practice at the top of their license at all times.
  • Advocate for adoption of the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC).
  • Address infringement upon the scopes of practice of audiology and speech-language pathology by other professions that lack the necessary academic and clinical preparation as well as continuing education to assess, treat, and manage speech, language, cognitive, hearing, balance, voice, and feeding/swallowing disorders.
  • Advocate for public policies that recruit and support (a) a diverse population of undergraduate and graduate students in audiology and speech-language pathology and (b) a culturally responsive workforce of audiologists and speech-language pathologists.
  • Advocate for public policies that provide economic support to audiologists and speech-language pathologists—particularly those who are owners of small businesses or private practices or who operate as independent contractors.
  • Advocate for regulations that reflect the value of audiology and speech-language pathology assistants.

Patient, Client, and Student Priorities

  • Advocate for public policies that reduce disparities in education and health care settings based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, primary language, ability, age, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.
  • Advocate for public policies ensuring that patients, clients, students, caregivers, audiologists, and speech-language pathologists have equitable access to objective, evidence-based resources to support collaborative, informed decision making.
  • Advocate for increased federal Medicaid funding, the preservation of Medicaid Maintenance of Effort protections, and state compliance with service mandates under Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.
  • Ensure that devices and technologies for hearing, augmentative and alternative communication, habilitation, and rehabilitation are safe, appropriately utilized, and properly marketed to consumers.
  • Participate in international public policy initiatives designed to support individuals with speech, language, cognitive, hearing, balance, voice, and feeding/swallowing disorders.

Resources for Getting Involved

As a member of ASHA, you have a very important voice. The professional perspectives and personal stories you bring to public policy issues have a powerful impact on our collective ability to advance the professions. By working together, we can most effectively educate, inform, and persuade lawmakers, policymakers, and other decision makers to take actions that benefits the professions as well as the patients, clients, and students we serve.

Questions? Contact Jeffrey P. Regan, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, at jregan@asha.org.

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