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January 2022 Advocacy Update

Your 60-Second Advocacy Update

January 28, 2022

ASHA’s 2021 Advocacy Highlights

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present both challenges and opportunities for audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) across the country. We know that these are difficult times, and we remain committed to partnering with you and advocating on your behalf. Here are some advocacy highlights from 2021 [PDF].

Congress Facing Same Challenges in New Year

Action on much of President Biden’s domestic agenda (which include new hearing benefits under Medicare) has stalled amid opposition from Senate Republicans and some Senate Democrats. Furthermore, Congressional leaders are facing a mid-February deadline to fund the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year. ASHA continues to actively engage with Congress to make progress on key federal priorities, such as increasing funding for special education and newborn hearing screening and expanding Medicare coverage of audiology services.

No Surprises Act Went into Effect January 1

The new regulation applies to providers of both audiology and speech-language pathology services. However, the provision only applies to patients without insurance who are self-paying or insurance where the provider is considered out-of-network. Here’s what audiologists and SLPs need to know to ensure compliance.

What ASHA’s Working On:

ASLP-IC Progresses to the Next Phase

The Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC) reached another milestone when the ASLP-IC Commission held its inaugural meeting January 11-13, 2022. The Commission began developing bylaws and the process of operationalizing the Compact in 2023. ASHA will continue advocacy for additional states to join the compact this year. Updates will be provided as developments warrant.

Comments on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for 2023

This week, ASHA offered comments on the NBPP that governs policy changes for health plans on the ACA exchanges. ASHA supported the protection of the essential health benefit of habilitation and rehabilitation, affirmed protections against discrimination, encouraged limited cost sharing for patients and the elimination of arbitrary visit limitations. A fact sheet is available on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website with details on the proposed standards.

Proposed Bills in 2022 State Legislative Sessions

ASHA has submitted several comments as the 2022 state legislative sessions kick off. ASHA expressed support for: 1) Washington legislation (SB 1854), which provides for hearing instrument coverage for individuals with hearing loss; and 2) Utah newborn screening regulations that clarify the definition of newborn hearing screening and screening follow-up requirements. ASHA opposed Washington House Bill 1403, which could lead to the elimination or lessening of licensure for audiologists and SLPs, and the possible future licensing of audiology and speech-language pathology assistants in the state. All 2022 comments will be posted on asha.org.

Meeting with Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Leadership

ASHA participated in listening sessions with Katy Neas, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, where she expressed her strong support for addressing personnel shortages and ensuring that COVID-19 relief funds may be utilized to support students with disabilities and educators who serve them. ASHA is aggressively moving forward to enhance research and guidance from the Department of Education on a number of key topics, including manageable workloads, assessment practices and service referrals, compensatory services and student regression, and access to school-based Medicaid funding.

FYI:

Federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) Extended Through April 16, 2022

Visit the ASHA’s PHE Updates for 2022 webpage for information on any future extensions.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Rescue Plan Funds for State Education Agencies

The Department announced that it approved every state education agency plan and has distributed $122 billion in funding to all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico. The funds are to help states and districts keep schools open for safe in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional resources and information are shared in the announcement.

Senate Committee Advances FDA Nominee

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to serve as Food and Drug Administration Commissioner to the full Senate for consideration. If confirmed, Dr. Califf will oversee implementation of regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. ASHA submitted comments [PDF] to the FDA on the proposed regulations.

ASHA-PAC Events

Did you know ASHA-PAC has an events page? Learn more about upcoming ASHA-PAC events throughout the year!

New Take Action Site

We are excited to announce a new and revamped site for you to participate in grassroots advocacy! ASHA’s Take Action webpage lists federal and state campaigns with prewritten letters that go directly to your elected officials. It’s quick and easy. Don’t delay, advocate today!

What is ASHA Advocacy? Speaking out personally and professionally for making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all.

Follow ASHA Advocacy on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about ASHA’s advocacy priorities in the 2022 Public Policy Agenda and see 2022 ASHA Comments and Testimony.


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