December 9, 2021
(Rockville, MD) The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) announced today that U.S. Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) are the first recipients of the organization’s new Award for Public Service. ASHA created the honor to recognize public servants who make a significant contribution to the professions of audiology and/or speech-language pathology.
“We are pleased to honor representatives McKinley and Thompson,” ASHA 2021 President A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, said. “Both recipients have been steadfast advocates who, in a variety of ways, have advanced the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology, and the interests and well-being of the patients, clients, and students they serve. We thank the Congressmen for their important work and congratulate them on their award.”
The legislators co-chair the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus and are perennially recognized as being among the most bipartisan and effective members of Congress.
Individually, Rep. McKinley is an original co-sponsor of the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act, which would provide Medicare beneficiaries more timely and robust access to audiology services, and is the lead Republican sponsor of the Expanded Telehealth Access Act that makes audiologists and speech-language pathologists permanently eligible to receive Medicare reimbursement for services provided via telehealth. In addition, he is an original cosponsor of Ally’s Act, which requires private insurers to cover certain audiological provided services as well as implantable hearing devices and is the lead Republican sponsor of legislation that was enacted to stop the 2% Medicare payment “sequestration” cuts originally scheduled to take effect this year.
“It is an honor to serve as co-chair of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus and work as an advocate alongside ASHA,” said Rep. McKinley. “Due to my own hearing disability, I have a unique understanding for just how important it is that all people are afforded the ability to communicate effectively with one another. We will continue to fight to ensure that audiology and speech-language pathology services are available and accessible to everyone who needs them, including Medicare beneficiaries and through telehealth.”
Rep. Thompson has introduced and co-sponsored multiple bills to expand access to audiology and speech-language pathology services, including for services provided via telehealth. He has also supported adding new hearing benefits under Medicare—including for hearing aids—and providing Medicare coverage of treatment services provided by audiologists. Earlier this year, together with Rep. McKinley, he introduced a resolution honoring World Hearing Day, a World Health Organization observance that raises awareness of hearing loss prevention and promotes ear and hearing care.
“It is an honor to accept ASHA’s inaugural Award for Public Service,” Rep. Thompson said. “Hearing health is a critical part of a person’s overall health. Each year, I am proud to lead a resolution honoring World Hearing Day and support funding for both the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Initiative and hearing health screenings for young and elderly Americans.
“Thank you, ASHA, for your important work on hearing health, as well as for your partnership as we work to ensure all Americans receive the vital hearing health care they need. I will continue working to improve hearing health for everyone.”
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.