November 20, 2020
A new bill to provide audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) permanent telehealth authority in Medicare has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill H.R. 8755, the Expanded Telehealth Access Act, sponsored by Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and David McKinley (R-WV), would enable audiologists and SLPs to be reimbursed for Medicare covered services—currently provided in person to beneficiaries—when furnished through telehealth. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is using authority provided by Congress to cover only a limited number of services when delivered through telehealth. That authority expires when the public health emergency ends. Audiologists and SLPs are qualified providers of telehealth services and are often allowed to provide services in this manner under state laws and other payer policies. Covering telehealth permanently would enhance access to hearing, speech, language, swallowing, and cognition related health care services during future public health emergencies and for Medicare beneficiaries in rural and medically underserved areas.
Contact Jerry White, ASHA’s director of federal affairs for health care, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit ASHA’s Telepractice resources page for additional information and highlights on ASHA’s efforts to ensure coverage of audiology and speech-language pathology services provided through telepractice.