The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which includes numerous ASHA supported health care, education, workforce, and patient, client, student provisions that implement portions of President Biden’s domestic agenda. Below are some key highlights of the legislation. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Health Care Provisions
- Adds new hearing benefits to Medicare—including coverage of hearing aids—and incorporates provisions from the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (H.R. 1587/S. 1731) that would reclassify audiologists as practitioners under Medicare and enable audiologists to be reimbursed for treatment services covered by Medicare.
- Expands the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credits to below 100% of the federal poverty line in 2022 through 2025 and provides enhanced cost-sharing assistance to expand access to coverage for the uninsured.
- Includes $150 billion to expand access to home-based services and care for millions of older adults and people with disabilities.
- Makes permanent the Money Follows the Person and the spousal impoverishment programs, which are Medicaid initiatives that help low-income older adults and individuals with disabilities receive home based services.
- Provides up to four weeks of universal paid family and medical leave starting in 2024 for new parents, workers dealing with their own serious medical conditions, and workers who need leave to care for a loved one with a serious medical issue.
- Reauthorizes and provides funding for the Health Profession Opportunity Grant program to strengthen the program and make it available nationwide.
- Provides $160 million for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part D personnel development grants. These competitive grants may be used to improve the education of children with disabilities through state personnel development, personnel preparation, technical assistance, and other resources that support educational audiologists and school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs).
- Provides $113 million for Grow Your Own programs, including the addition of a new subsection for programs "to address shortages of teachers in high-need subjects, fields, schools, and geographic areas, or shortages of school leaders in high-need schools, and to increase the diversity of qualified individuals entering into the teacher, principal, or other school leader workforce." This could include educational audiologists and school-based SLPs, along with other special education professionals.
Professional Practice/Workforce Provisions
- Provides $1 billion to support the direct care workforce through grants that may be used to recruit, retain, and improve the wages of such workers.
- Includes $20 million to develop and disseminate evidence-based strategies for recruitment, education and training, retention, and career advancement of direct care workers.
- Increases the maximum Pell Grant award by $550 per student for enrollment at public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education (IHEs).
- Provides $500 million for ‘retention and completion grants’ to IHEs to support the retention and graduation of minority students.
- Provides $3 billion for research and development infrastructure grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.
Patient, Client, and Student Provisions
- Provides $10 million to carry out the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, which improves access to assistive technology that enables people with disabilities to participate in their education, employment, and communities more fully.
- Provides $10 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct or support research related to developmental delays, including speech and language delays in infants and toddlers, speech and language development, and outcomes in infants and toddlers through early adolescence.
Contact Jerry White, ASHA’s director of federal and political affairs, at email@example.com.